Hennes and Mauritz (H&M) said it was planning on shutting 350 out of its around 5,000 stores worldwide in 2021, but will open 100 new ones. The company said that the rapid changes in customer behavior have been accelerated by COVID-19.

Chief executive officer Helena Helmersson said that recovery is going better than expected. With more full-price sales than expected and strict cost control, H&M returned to profit already in the 3rd quarter. H&M posted a net loss of some 5B kronor. This is in contrast to a net profit of 4.6 billion a year earlier while revenue halved to 28.7 billion kronor.

In mid-April, the Scandinavian company temporarily closed around 80% of its stores worldwide. Currently, 3%, or 166 shops, remain shut.

The coronavirus has accelerated the trend toward online shopping. This is disrupting the retail industry and battering major chains before the pandemic hit. H&M rival Inditex, which owns Zara said its plans to close as many as 1,200 stores this year and next.

H&M (HNNMY) and Inditex aren’t the only retailers feeling the pinch. American Eagleb Outfitter (AEO) and GameStop (GME) also recently announced plans to close hundreds of stores because of the rise of online shopping.


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