H&M hit hard by pandemic with 18% drop in sales

Sales at H&M declined by 18 per cent to £16.3 billion in 2020, compared to £20.3 billion in the previous year.

Gross profit for the year was £8.16 billion, a decrease of more than £2 billion compared to 2019.

The company said that sales development was significantly negatively impacted by the pandemic, particularly in the second quarter when stores were temporarily closed across most markets, with around 80 per cent of its stores closed at one point.

The Swedish retailer put in place a number of crisis measures throughout 2020, covering all parts of the business, putting greater emphasis on its digital channels which partly compensated for the significant drop in in-store sales.

“With strong, profitable online growth and good cost control we succeeded in ending the year in profit and with a strong financial position,” said Helena Helmersson, chief executive, H&M. “Taking decisive measures quickly, combined with an attractive customer offering, led to a better recovery than expected up until the second wave of the pandemic struck.

She added: “Our measures to mitigate the negative effects of ongoing restrictions and closures are continuing. Although the situation at the time of writing is highly challenging, the H&M group stands strong.”

The H&M chief exec said that the company plans to continue expanding its omnichannel operation to meet changing customer demand.

Looking ahead the retailer is focusing on digital growth, integration of different channels, and the optimisation of its store portfolio.

“Speed and flexibility will be even more important going forward, particularly in the supply chain, to ensure the best customer offering and increase availability in all channels,” explained Helmersson. Our key focus remains on developing strong, unique brands in order to always offer the best combination of fashion, quality, price and sustainability.”

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