Persson Appointed CEO of H&M

Executive to succeed Rolf Eriksen, who is retiring, effective July 1.

PARIS — Hennes & Mauritz said Wednesday its board of directors named Karl-Johan Persson, 34, as chief executive officer, effective July 1.

Persson, the retailer’s head of expansion, business development, brand and new business, succeeds Rolf Eriksen, who is turning 65 and will retire this year.

The company said Persson would work closely with Eriksen this spring during the transition period.

“H&M’s business concept works internationally, and we are well prepared for continued growth,” stated Persson, who is the grandson of H&M founder Erling Persson and son of its chairman of the board, Stefan Persson.

Indeed, last month, the firm reported a 13 percent increase in aftertax profits for 2008 to 15.29 billion Swedish kronor, or $1.89 billion at average exchange, beating most analysts’ expectations. Sales for the year reached 88.53 billion kronor, or $10.94 billion, up 13 percent.

At the time, H&M said it remains committed to opening 225 stores worldwide this year, adding 7,000 jobs.

The company will open its first stores in Beijing in March, with the majority of H&M’s new stores this year being planned for the U.S., France, Italy, Spain, the U.K. and Germany.

A graduate of the European Business School in London, Persson has been a board member of H&M’s subsidiaries in Denmark, Germany, the U.S. and the U.K. since 2000.

From 2001 to 2004, he was managing director of H&M’s European network, and from 2005 to 2007, head of business development and COS, the Swedish fashion behemoth’s new chain featuring more expensive clothes.

Persson was elected a member of the board in 2006.