H&M hires Cambridge Analytica whistleblower amid 10% profit drop

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H&M catalogue
// H&M reported a 10% drop in Q4 profits, marking the 6th consecutive quarter of decline
// It blamed the fall on major investments in its logistics systems
// Cambridge Analytica whistleblower Christopher Wylie also hired to gain insights on customers

H&M has enlisted the help of the Cambridge Analytica whistleblower Christopher Wylie as it turns its hand to artificial intelligence and data analytics.

The fashion retailer has hired Wylie as a consultant to help it use big data to gain better insights on customers, products and markets, while ensuring its use of artificial intelligence remains “sustainable and ethical”.

Wylie rose to fame last year when he handed The Guardian documents which purported to show that Cambridge Analytica obtained private and personal data from more then 87 million Facebook accounts for the purpose of creating targeted political campaigns.

Its activities were implicated as factors in both Donald Trump’s 2015 US presidential campaign and the 2016 Vote Leave campaign during the Brexit referendum in the UK.

H&M’s move towards data analysis comes as it reported its sixth consecutive quarter of falling profits, dropping just over 10 per cent in the fourth quarter to SEK 4.4 billion (£371.4 million).

This came well below analysts’ expectations of SEK 5.1 billion (£430.5 million) and has sent shares dropping more than three per cent.

Despite its profit drop, H&M saw revenues grow 12 per cent to SEK 56.4 billion (£4.7 billion).

It blamed the drop in profits on costs related to replacing its logistics system, as it aims to ramp up its online and delivery offering to compete with its larger rival Zara.

“It has been a challenging year for H&M group and the industry but after a difficult first half, there are signs the company’s transformation efforts are beginning to take effect,” H&M’s chief executive Karl-Johan Persson said.

“Improved collections generated better full-price sales and lower markdowns towards the end of the year.

“This gave us confidence to accelerate our transformation plans in the fourth quarter with a particular focus on the upgrade of our logistics systems.

“Inevitably resulting in increased costs but will lead to a range of improvements for customers.”

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