Jan 30, 2020
Stockholm, Jan 30, 2020 (AFP) – Swedish ready-to-wear giant Hennes et Mauritz (H&M) on Thursday announced a change of reign with the departure of board boss Stefan Persson, replaced by his son Karl -Johan Persson, until then CEO of the group, after a solid 2019 financial year.
Stefan Persson, son of group founder Erling Persson, had served as chairman of the board for over 20 years.
His successor Karl-Johan Persson, outgoing CEO, leaves his place to Helena Helmersson.
Currently operating director of the brand, she takes the operational reins of a company in the process of recovery after several quarters of erosion in sales and profitability due to a delay in its conversion to online commerce.
H&M, whose profits had crumbled by more than 20% in 2018, thus reported a 6.2% increase in its net profit at the end of its staggered 2019 fiscal year (December 2018 – November 2019), to 13.4 billion crowns (1.3 billion euros).
“The transformation work of the H&M group continues to bear fruit (…), we have notably invested in digitization, a more efficient offer (…) and in technological infrastructures, advanced analysis and intelligence artificial, “said Karl-Johan Persson in the earnings release.
The annual turnover increased by 10.6%, to 233 billion crowns (22.33 billion euros), and its operating margin improved by 0.1 point year on year, to 7.5 %.
During the year, the group recorded “a strong increase in online sales”, 24% in Swedish kronor and 18% in local currencies.
Inventories – a big black spot for H & M which forces it to balances and weighs on its profitability – fell by 6% over one year. However, expressed in local currencies, they increased by 0.3%. “The composition and level of inventories continue to improve, and we expect a further decrease in markdowns in the first quarter – for the sixth consecutive quarter,” said H&M.
For 2020, the group plans to open 200 stores, mainly in South America, Russia, Eastern Europe and Asia, and 175 closures, particularly in Europe, the United States and China.
Listed in Stockholm, the H&M title took 9.6% at 10:00 a.m. (9:00 a.m. GMT), at 207.9 crowns (19.5 euros), in a market that was rising very slightly (+ 0.2%).
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