H&M ‘dedicated to regaining trust’ in China after boycott

STOCKHOLM (AFP) – Swedish clothing giant H&M said yesterday it was doing “everything” to resolve a boycott in China that was sparked by its decision to stop sourcing cotton over labour concerns.

H&M and other fashion brands have been under fire in China for statements voicing concern about allegations of labour violations in cotton fields in the far west region.

Chinese celebrities and tech firms pulled partnerships with H&M, Nike, Adidas, Burberry and Calvin Klein. H&M was even erased from Chinese shopping apps.

“We are working together with our colleagues in China to do everything we can to manage the current challenges and find a way forward,” H&M said in a statement.

“We are dedicated to regaining the trust and confidence of our customers, colleagues, and business partners in China,” it said.

H&M makes around six per cent of its revenue in China, which is home to nearly 10 per cent of its stores.

People walk past a store of Swedish clothing giant H&M in Beijing. PHOTO: AFP

China had become H&M’s third biggest market before the boycott.

The company has not released the figures on the financial impact of the boycott or which measures it has taken in response to the controversy.

“China is a very important market to us and our long-term commitment to the country remains strong,” H&M said, noting it has been presented in the country for more than 30 years.

“We want to be a responsible buyer, in China and elsewhere, and are now building forward-looking strategies and actively working on next steps with regards to material sourcing.”

The statement was issued on the sidelines of quarterly results which showed a net loss of SEK1.07 billion (USD123 million) in the December to February period due to the coronavirus pandemic.

In late March, about 1,500 of the company’s 5,000 stores were temporarily closed due to coronavirus restrictions, H&M said.

Sales, however, jumped 55 per cent in March compared to the same month last year.