Business

Virus crisis slashes H&M 2020 earnings

High street fashion icon H&M said Friday the coronavirus pandemic had slashed its 2020 net profit by 90 percent, with about a third of its some 5,000 stores currently closed.

For its financial year to November, the company reported a net profit of 1.24 billion Swedish kronor (120 million euros) as sales fell 20 percent to 187 billion kronor.

“Our measures to mitigate the negative effects of ongoing restrictions and closures are continuing,” chief executive officer Helena Helmersson said in a statement.

“Although the situation at the time of writing is highly challenging, the H&M group stands strong.”

Despite continued lockdowns and restrictions, H&M said it would not increase the number of outlets — 350 — targeted for closure in the current year.

At the same time, it would open 100 other stores, as planned.

The business was especially hard hit in its second quarter, the height of the first wave of the pandemic when up to 80 percent of its outlets had to close, H&M said.

Among the worst affected markets, sales in France plunged 28 percent, with Italy down 24 percent, the United States 17 percent and Britain 16 percent.

China and Germany did better, registering losses of just 3.0 percent.

H&M said that conditions had worsened again in the later part of the year as a second wave of the pandemic swept through.

For the three months to November — its fourth quarter — sales tumbled 15 percent to 52.55 kronor, with net profit down 41 percent at 2.49 billion kronor. via Agence France-Presse

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