H&M vows more transparency as investors slam “unwillingness” to share information


H&M is set to hold its first-ever meeting between shareholders and management in light of growing criticism about the lack of transparency over its adoption of online operations.

Historically the fashion retailer has largely kept investors in the dark over its operations.

However, with competitors such as Zolando and Asos eating into the retailer‘s profits its chief executive Karl-Johan Persson has said they “have a responsibility now to be a bit more transparent”.

Dwindling sales have seen share prices fall and H&M is set to miss its main financial goal for a second consecutive year.

Online-only fashion retailers are reportedly becoming increasingly threatening competitors and H&M‘s investors have grown frustrated by the retailer‘s lack of information regarding online progress.

Chief executive of the Swedish Shareholder Association Joacim Olsson told the Financial Times: “H&M has not been sufficiently transparent in its information to shareholders.

“There are several examples of this, and the most obvious is their unwillingness to tell the market about how ecommerce develops in general and in different markets, and what margins they have in this part of the company.

“The fact that H&M gives very scarce information about its ecommerce development creates suspicion about how bad it really is.

“Growth by 25 per cent does not impress and does not say anything as long as H&M does not communicate the total volume.”

The news comes just days after H&M announced a 20 per cent drop in profits for its third quarter to £460 million.

Persson said of the results: “This is, of course, something that we are not satisfied with and which, among other things, resulted in us entering the third quarter with inventory levels that were too high.”

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