Byline: Katherine Weisman

PARIS — Hennes & Mauritz, the Swedish fashion retailer, announced Thursday that its chief executive officer Fabian Mansson has resigned.
The company also said that profits for the first quarter ended Feb. 29 are expected to drop nearly 12 percent. The two developments pushed the company’s share price down 31 percent to $26.83 on the Stockholm Stock Exchange. Dollar figures are converted from the Swedish krona at the current exchange rate.
Mansson is joining an Internet company, according to an H&M spokeswoman. Succeeding him is Rolf Eriksen, a 15-year H&M veteran who ran the Sweden and Denmark operations. The name of the firm Mansson is joining could not be learned.
H&M chairman Stefan Persson said in a statement that the retailer’s expansion and new ceo will enhance H&M’s focus on increasing sales and profits. Plans include the March 30 opening of H&M’s first U.S. store, a 35,000-square-foot store at 640 Fifth Avenue, and the openings of stores in Palisades Mall, West Nyack, N.Y., and Garden State Plaza in Paramus, N.J., later this spring.
Mansson has been with H&M since the early 1990s and was named chief executive officer two years ago. Neither Persson nor Mansson could be reached for comment Thursday.
In the same statement, the company said that its provisional net profits after financial items for the first quarter ended Feb. 29, 2000 fell nearly 12 percent to about $77 million compared with $87.2 million a year ago. Currency fluctuations combined with start-up costs and depreciation for expansion in Spain and the U.S. had a negative impact of $14.4 million on net profits. Adjusted for these items, profits would have totaled $91.4 million, the company explained.
Sales for the quarter rose 14 percent to about $954 million, compared with $839.1 million a year earlier. Adjusted for currency conversion, the company said that sales would have increased 19 percent.
H&M is known for its trendy, disposable clothes for men and women aged 18 to 35. The chain, which boasted some 600 stores in 12 European countries last year, also sells children’s wear, lingerie, juniors, maternity and plus-size apparel. Prices for H&M items compare with those for Old Navy, but the apparel collections tend to more sophisticated fashion styling.
Final first-quarter figures for H&M will be reported April 13.

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