H&M to refashion stores in the wake of Covid-19

H&M covid-19 pandemic lockdown Helena Helmersson
The Swedish retailer has also considered examining whether its shops can play a role in the logistics of online selling
// H&M said it will refashion its store estate to lure shoppers as they shift online
// CEO Helena Helmersson said it is all about boosting relationships and engagement with customers

H&M has reportedly announced that it will be refashioning its network of 5000 stores in the wake of Covid-19 which has seen shoppers shift online.

The Swedish retailer has also considered examining whether its shops can play a role in the logistics of online selling.

H&M chief executive Helena Helmersson said it is all about boosting relationships and engagement with customers, Financial Times reported.


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“The physical store network that we have is one of our strengths. It’s the different roles the stores can play, the different formats,” she said.

At the height of the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, four-fifths of H&M’s physical stores were closed and a big push online was unable to offset the hit.

Sales fell a fifth in H&M’s financial year until the end of November to SKr187 billion, while pre-tax profits plunged 88 per cent to SKr1.2 billion.

Sales plunged in March and April, before rebounding strongly in the summer, and then getting hit again around Christmas.

H&M’s shares fell consistently from 2015 to 2018, although they have climbed 50 per cent since their Covid-19 low in March last year.

Opening new stores gave the Swedish group an easy path to sales growth but did not help its profit margins, which have been declining consistently for the past decade.

Helmersson said H&M took “really, really fast decisions” at the start of the pandemic on how it bought garments, worked with its supply chain, and moved to selling more online.

H&M is currently trying to increase its speed on sustainability, bringing in a target of using 30 per cent recycled materials by 2025.

Earlier this month, H&M announced plans to expand online second-hand fashion retailer Sellpy into The Netherlands and Austria. It has been investing in Sellpy since 2015 and became its majority owner in 2019, when it increased its stake to 70 per cent.

Sellpy’s first expansion move outside of Sweden was in Germany last summer.

Helmersson, a former head of sustainability at H&M, said that the hardest task for the retailer was decoupling its growth from its use of natural resources.

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