By Daniel Hunter

Swedish fashion retailer H&M has reported a 36% rise in profits for the first quarter.

One of the world's biggest fashion retailers, H&M posted profits of 3.6bn Swedish kronor ($423m; £284m) in the three months December to February, up 36% on the same period last year.

H&M said "strong" store and online improvements helped it to boost sales and profits in the quarter.

"We have made a very good start to 2015 - in terms of both sales and profits," said H&M chief executive Karl-Johan Persson.

"Our attractive customer offering and strong expansion both through stores and online, as well as our work on continuous improvement, are among the reasons for increased market share gains and good profits

The retailer opened around 400 new stores last year. It plans to open stores in Taiwan, Peru and Macau in the first half of 2015, and in South Africa and India in the second half.

H&M is also planning to expand its online offering to Portugal, Poland, Czech Republic, Romania, Slovakia, Hungary, Bulgaria and Belgium in the spring, and Switzerland in the autumn.

But it is likely to face a squeeze on profits as a result of currency markets in the near future, it said: "...the strong US dollar will affect our sourcing costs going forward."

H&M makes a lot of its purchases in US dollars, but many of its sales are made in euros. It means the the strength of the dollar against the euro is likely to reduce its profit margins.