H&M reported stronger than expected profits in the fourth quarter as the world’s second-largest retailer laid out new long-term targets – including expansion in Asia – as part of its recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Swedish fast fashion chain said pre-tax profits rose 64% to 6 billion kronor ($640 million) in the three months to the end of November compared with 2020, a year greatly affected by the pandemic.
H&M said that at the beginning of the most recent quarter about 100 stores were temporarily closed, mainly in Southeast Asia.
For the second quarter in a row, profits were higher than pre-pandemic levels, and they also beat analysts’ expectation of 5.4 billion kronor.
“We ended the year strongly, with sales back at the same level as before the pandemic and with profitability better than it has been for several years,” chief executive Helena Helmersson said.
H&M has lagged behind bigger rival Inditex, the Spanish owner of Zara, in recovering from the pandemic but it has now posted strong growth in the past half year.
The group plans to open a new Tokyo flagship store in the Ikebukuro district. New stores in Kazakhstan and its first outlet in Cambodia are also scheduled for 2022.
- Reuters, with additional editing by George Russell