H&M posts weak sales, CEO steps down

ISTANBUL: Swedish retail giant H&M Group posted a decline in sales and witnessed its Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Helena Helmersson stepping down from her position on Wednesday.

The company's shares also experienced a sharp drop of over 12 per cent, Anadolu Agency (AA) reported according to its financial results statement.

The multinational clothing company said the group's net sales in the fourth quarter amounted to SEK 62.65 billion (U$6.02 billion), decreasing by 1 per cent in local currencies.

The group's sales declined by 4 per cent in local currencies during the period between Dec 1, 2023 to Jan 29, 2024, compared with the same period of the previous year.

"For many consumers, the year was marked by lower purchasing power because of high inflation and high-interest rates. the fourth quarter started with unusually hot weather in several of our important European markets," Helmersson said in the statement.

Following a 26-year tenure with H&M Group, including the last four years as CEO, Helmersson, 51, made the difficult decision to step down.

"It is with mixed feelings that I have informed the board of directors of my decision to leave the CEO role," she said in a separate statement.

"However, it has been very demanding at times for me personally, and I now feel that it is time to leave the CEO role, which of course has not been an easy decision."

Daniel Ervér, 42, who has worked in the H&M Group for 18 years, was appointed as the new president and CEO.

Amid the reshuffling in the top executive position and weak sales, H&M's stock price plummeted 12.37 per cent Wednesday on the Nasdaq Stockholm exchange.

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Helmersson had announced in November 2022 that it would lay off 1,500 employees in a cost-cutting move that was expected to save the company around SEK 2 billion (US$192.3 million) per year.

H&M was criticised the same month amid a report that the company's suppliers in Bangladesh that manufacture clothes for the group allegedly contaminate water, turning entire rivers biologically dead.

The Swedish Commercial Employees' Union, Handels, said earlier Wednesday that discontent is rising among H&M store employees who have had their working hours shortened. — Bernama

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