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Hennes & Mauritz said sales of its summer collections had got off to “a very good start” and that it would open fewer stores than planned this year as it concentrated investment on its online operations.

The company had already announced headline sales figures for the second quarter, but the upbeat comments on trading helped push shares in the Swedish fast-fashion retailer almost 14 per cent higher in Stockholm on Thursday.

H&M said it expected June sales to be 12 per cent higher than last year, ahead of 5 per cent growth in the second quarter. It added that it was selling more clothes at full price, with the cost of markdowns relative to sales falling by 1 percentage point in the second quarter. It expects that to fall another 1.5 percentage points in the third.

A build-up of inventory and the need to cut prices in order to sell stock has hurt the group’s profits over the past year.

“Inventory increased by less than sales, the composition of inventory is better and markdowns are lower,” chief executive Karl-Johan Persson told an investor conference call. “We will see more improvements, it’s heading in the right direction.”

Adam Cochrane, analyst at Citi, said the strong June sales were reassuring as the market had feared H&M would find it harder to maintain the momentum of the first half in the second six months of the year, when it is up against more challenging comparable figures.

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