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H&M sees boosted sales but Russian closures start to weigh

STOCKHOLM (CNA) – Swedish clothing giant H&M said yesterday its revenue increased in the first quarter, but its closure of Russian stores has started to impact growth.

Hundreds of Western companies have halted their operations in Russia following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, with a slew of retailers, including H&M rival Zara, shutting down stores.

H&M has closed 185 stores and stopped online sales in Russia.

H&M said its global sales between March 1 and 28 rose by six per cent in local currencies compared to the same period last year. But excluding Russia, Belarus and Ukraine, sales increased by 11 per cent, the company added.

In the first quarter, which preceded the closures, H&M said sales rose 23 per cent to SEK49.2 billion. In local currencies, the increase was 18 per cent.

Its net profit bounced back in the black in the December-to-February period at SEK217 million following a net loss of 1.1 billion for the same quarter a year earlier. Prior to the war, the pandemic had weighed on the company’s performance.

“In addition to the general consequences of the pandemic such as disruptions and delays in the supply chain, some of our major markets were impacted by a new wave of the pandemic in the first quarter,” Chief Executive Officer Helena Helmersson said.

“Despite this we saw a recovery of sales in physical stores compared with last year, while online sales continued to perform well,” she added.

H&M is among hundreds of Western companies, including retailers, that have closed shops in Russia following Moscow’s invastion of Ukraine. PHOTO: AFP