// H&M announces plans to permanently shut down 170 stores as coronavirus impact bites
// It is not yet clear how many of those stores are part of the fashion giant’s UK store estate
// H&M Group said 7% of its stores remained closed at the end of June to do the pandemic
H&M has announced plans to shut 170 of its stores across its global estate after accelerating closure strategy in the face of coronavirus.
The Swedish retail giant said that sales dived by a quarter in June as it was still weighed down by the impact of the pandemic and lockdowns in key regions.
The fashion retailer reopened hundreds of its UK stores last month after the UK Government gave non-essential shops the green light to welcome customers again.
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H&M Group has not confirmed how many of its planned global store closures could affect its 300 stores in the UK.
The company has a total of around 5000 stores worldwide.
Weekday, Monki, Cos, Arket and other brands within the Swedish fashion group are also expected to be affected by the closure plans.
H&M Group said in its second quarter report to investors that it increased its previous closure plans by around 40 after feeling the impact of the virus across Europe.
The company also intends to open 130 new stores elsewhere during the current year.
“Our physical stores are incredibly important to us and we want to ensure that we have H&M stores in the right locations,” a H&M spokesperson said.
“In the six month report, H&M Group has previously announced that on a global level, it will close around 170 of around 5000 stores around the world, across all of its seven brands, this will be alongside 130 store openings globally.
“At this stage we cannot comment on how this might affect stores in the UK.”
At the end of June, H&M said that 350 of its stores, representing seven per cent of all sites, were still closed as a result of the pandemic.#
H&M Group chief executive Helena Helmersson said: “I am full of admiration for our employees’ commitment, drive and perseverance during this very challenging time.”
“As we have reopened our stores, sales have begun to recover at a faster rate than expected.
“To meet the rapid changes in customer behaviour caused by Covid-19 we are accelerating our digital development, optimising the store portfolio and further integrating the channels.
“With our ambitious sustainability work we want to continue to lead fashion retail towards a more sustainable future.”
with PA Wires