H&M to close stores as Covid-19 pushes shoppers online

The company said it was planning on shutting 350 out of its around 5,000 stores worldwide in 2021, while only opening 100 new ones

By   |  Published: 1st Oct 2020  10:16 pmUpdated: 1st Oct 2020  11:19 pm

Stockholm: Swedish clothing retail giant Hennes and Mauritz (H&M) reported a better than expected third quarter profit on Thursday, but said it was closing some stores as Covid-19 was pushing more shoppers online.

The company said it was planning on shutting 350 out of its around 5,000 stores worldwide in 2021, while only opening 100 new ones.

“The rapid changes in customer behaviour have been accelerated by Covid-19. The H&M group is therefore now stepping up the pace of its transformation,” the company said in its quarterly report.

Net profit for the period from June to August came in at 1.8 billion Swedish kronor ($201 million, 172 million euros), compared to 3.9 billion kronor for the same period a year earlier.

Revenue fell 18.7 percent to 51 billion kronor.

At the same time online sales, which currently only represent a quarter of total sales, grew by 28 percent during the third quarter in local currencies.

“Our recovery is going better than expected… With more full-price sales than expected and strict cost control, we returned to profit already in the third quarter,” CEO Helena Helmersson said in a statement.

Privacy watchdog fines H&M $41M for spying on workers

Berlin: A German privacy watchdog said Thursday that it is fining clothing retailer H&M 35.3 million euros ($41 million) after the company was found to have spied on some of its employees in Germany.

Hamburg’s data protection commissioner said in a statement that the Swedish company collected private information about employees at a customer service center in Nuremberg, “ranging from rather harmless details to family issues and religious beliefs.”

The information was recorded on a network drive accessible to up to 50 managers and “used, among other things, to obtain a detailed profile of employees for measures and decisions regarding their employment.” The data protection commissioner, Johannes Caspar, said that “the combination of collecting details about their private lives and the recording of their activities led to a particularly intensive encroachment on employees’ civil rights.”

The privacy violation was discovered after the data briefly became visible to all people on the company network, resulting in news reports about the information gathering.

H&M said in a statement that the practices in Nuremberg didn’t correspond to company guidelines but that it nevertheless took full responsibility and had apologized unreservedly to the employees. The company said it would examine the fine issued.

Casper welcomed H&M’s decision to pay compensation to employees at the Nuremberg service center and take measures to prevent future privacy breaches, saying the steps “show the intention to give the employees the respect and appreciation they deserve as dependent workers in their daily work for their company.”


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