H&M to close around 250 stores next year

H&M will close around 250 of its stores globally next year, as around a quarter of its more than 5,000-strong estate comes up for rent renegotiation or lease end.

A statement from the Swedish retail group explained that in reaction to changing customer behaviour during the Coronavirus, it is “optimising” its store portfolio and investing more in digital channels.

Sales continued to recover in September, although they remained five per cent lower than last year.

H&M reported that its pre-tax profits fell to £210 million for the nine months to 31 August, with sales during the last nine months “significantly negatively affected by the COVID-19 situation, particularly in the second quarter when stores were temporarily closed in most markets”.

Net sales for the period dropped to £11.51 billion, compared to £14.64 billion a year ago, as 80 per cent of H&M’s stores worldwide were affected by lockdown.

Currently, 166 of its stores are still closed due to local lockdowns – although many more still have local restrictions and limited opening hours.

Chief executive Helena Helmersson commented: “More and more customers started shopping online during the pandemic, and they are making it clear that they value a convenient and inspiring experience in which stores and online interact, and strengthen each other.

“The substantial investments made in recent years have been very important for our recovery, and we are now accelerating our transformation work further to meet customers’ expectations.”

She added: “We are increasing digital investments, accelerating store consolidation and making the channels further integrated.

“To ensure that our offerings are relevant to customers and improve availability in all channels, speed and flexibility will be even more important in the future, particularly in the supply chain.”

H&M’s trading update included Cos, Monki, Weekday, & Other Stories, Cheap Monday, Arket and H&M Home.

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