PARIS — H&M Group sees its long-term prospects through a sustainable lens, as supply chain pressures and the war in Ukraine weighed on the first months of 2022.
In an address at the annual general meeting, where a dividend of 6.5 Swedish kronor (or 66 cents) was approved, chief executive officer Helena Helmersson said sales had returned to pre-pandemic levels with profitability at its best of the past few years despite supply chain disruptions and complex geopolitical conditions that required “a high level of flexibility, responsiveness and drive.”
“We ended the year with good sales development, greatly improved profits and in a strong financial position,” said the executive, noting that net sales in local currencies had increased by 12 percent for 2021, with earnings after financial items amounting to 14.3 billion Swedish kronor, or 1.45 billion dollars.
Summing up the year, Helmersson named the group’s flexibility and ability to act in the face of choppy trading conditions as a factor for its “faster-than-expected” 2021 recovery that continued in the second half of the year, even as subsequent waves of the pandemic brought store closures in various regions.
Looking ahead, the executive described the group’s offering as “well-positioned for a future with increased demand for sustainable products that also offer value for money,” supported by further integration of its sales channels and products meeting ever-increasing consumer expectations of sustainability, and offer accuracy thanks to advanced analytics that “is not just positive for the customer offering, but also contributes to a more sustainable use of resources.”
“The H&M group wants to lead the change toward circular and climate-positive fashion so that we can secure our journey of growth in both the short and long term,” Helmersson said.
As previously reported, the group, which operates H&M, Cos, Monki, & Other Stories, Arket and Weekday, plans to ramp up its sustainability drive while at the same time aiming to double its revenues by 2030.
“The more we use our size and our influence to create positive change, the more we can grow and contribute in a sustainable way,” the executive said.
In 2021, the company ranked second in the Fashion Transparency Index, which includes 250 fashion brands, and was appointed U.N. Global Compact Lead for its commitment to the initiative.
Helmersson also highlighted investments made by the group’s investment arm Co:Lab in companies she described as “important to [its] strategy,” such as those working on textile recycling solutions.
“Customers must always feel confident that with us they will be able to find the best combination of fashion, price, quality and sustainability,” she said.
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