Wednesday 19 December 2018

H&M bids to reassure investors as sales in stores slump

H&M chief executive Karl-Johan Persson. Photo: AFP/Getty Images
H&M chief executive Karl-Johan Persson. Photo: AFP/Getty Images

Anna Ringstrom and Helena Soderpalm

Retail giant H&M has warned sales from its existing stores will continue to fall this year even as booming ecommerce helps lift earnings.

After decades of rapid expansion, the world's second-largest clothes retailer behind Zara-owner Inditex has seen growth stall as it has struggled to adapt to the shift online and fend off competition from other budget brands. H&M is seen as a bellwether for the sector.

The company has more a dozen outlets in Ireland, spread across the country.

A secretive company still controlled by the family of Erling Persson, who founded the firm in 1947, H&M held its first-ever capital markets day yesterday in a bid to reassure investors stung by a halving of the share price since March 2015.

"We understand the need to be more transparent, especially since we have had a challenging year ... where we have underperformed both against our own plans and of course market expectations," chairman Stefan Persson, the founder's son, told investors in Stockholm. The stock initially rose on Wednesday but reversed course and fell 2.4pc by late morning. "Some had hopes for at least some like-for-like sales growth in 2018, but no," said one fund manager. (Reuters)

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