H&M names new CEO as sales keep sliding By Reuters

© Reuters. A woman walks past a store of the Swedish fashion retailer H&M at a shopping mall in Beijing, China March 24, 2021. REUTERS/Florence Lo

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) -H&M surprised investors on Wednesday with a new CEO, Daniel Erver, taking the role with immediate effect as the Swedish fashion retailer struggles to boost sales in a fiercely competitive market.

Outgoing CEO Helena Helmersson said she had decided to step down and leave H&M (ST:), saying the role has been very personally demanding.

The world’s second-biggest listed fashion retailer after Inditex (BME:), H&M is aiming to reach an operating margin of 10% this year and has focused on profitability rather than cutting prices.

But H&M has struggled with its price-sensitive customers going to budget-friendly newcomer SHEIN, in addition to competition from Inditex’s Zara.

H&M’s fourth-quarter operating profit margin fell to 7.2% from 7.8% in the third quarter

Measured in local currencies, H&M said on Wednesday that sales from Dec. 1 to Jan. 29 – the start of its fiscal first quarter – fell by 4%, compared to an increase last year of 5%.

It posted a fourth-quarter operating profit of 4.33 billion crowns ($415.4 million), up from 821 million a year earlier but below the 4.57 billion expected by analysts in an LSEG poll.

The board of H&M proposed an unchanged dividend of 6.50 crowns per share, and said it would ask for authorisation to buy back the group’s own B shares.

($1 = 10.4234 Swedish crowns)

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