Low-cost fashion chain H&M sees sales 16pc drop due to virus

STOCKHOLM (AP) — Swedish low-cost fashion brand Hennes & Mauritz (H&M) AB said yesterday its third quarter sales fell 16 per cent to SEK51 million (USD5.7 million), largely as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

At the beginning of the quarter, approximately 900 of the group’s more than 5,000 stores were temporarily closed. At the end of the quarter just over 200 stores were temporarily closed.

The Stockholm-based retailing group said its profit after tax for the period June 1 – August 31 amounted to SEK1.8 billion (USD200 million). A year earlier, it had reported a profit of SEK3.9 billion.

“Through much-appreciated collections and rapid, decisive actions, we returned to profit already in the third quarter,” H&M CEO Helena Helmersson said.

The group said the pandemic had affected all parts of the business, including product purchasing, investments, rents, staffing and financing.

“Although the challenges are far from over, we believe that the worst is behind us and we are well placed to come out of the crisis stronger,” she said of the pandemic.

Currently 166 stores, representing three per cent of the total number of stores, are still closed, and the group noted “a large number of stores still have local restrictions and limited opening hours”.

The exterior of an H&M store in New York on May 31, 2013. PHOTO: AP