H&M (HM-B) profits rose 85% to SEK14.3bn (£1.14bn/$1.51bn) in 2021 as it cut 2,950 jobs and plans to close 240 stores, according to its full-year report.
The Swedish fast-fashion chain said in the fourth quarter pre-tax profits rose 64% to SEK6bn compared to 2020, a year greatly affected by the pandemic.
Figures from its full-year report show that staff numbers dropped around 3%, with the average number of employees in the group at the end of November 2021, converted into full-time positions, standing at 107,375 of which 10,540 are employed in Sweden. In 2020 that number was 110,325.
The company said the reduction of 2,950 jobs was “mostly due to the expiry of temporary contracts, probationary employment coming to an end and natural attrition”.
Last year, H&M group opened 104 new stores and closed 321 spaces, resulting in a net decrease for the year of 217 stores as the Swedish fashion group navigated COVID restrictions across the globe, the report shows.
For 2022, the fashion retailer said it plans to open around 120 new stores and close around 240 stores, making a net decrease of around 120 stores.
“Most of the openings will be in growth markets, while the closures will mainly be in established markets,” it said.
It will also launch in six new markets: Ecuador, Kosovo, North Macedonia and, via franchise, in Costa Rica, Guatemala and Cambodia.
H&M now aims to double sales by 2030 compared with 2021 sales while at the same time halve its carbon footprint, and to reach an operating margin above 10% by 2024.
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," CEO Helena Helmersson said.
"Now that we are back to a more normalised situation with a strong financial position and good profitability, we can fully focus on growth again."
The Swedish group proposed an ordinary dividend of 6.50 swedish crowns per share to be paid in two instalments, as well as a 3 billion crown share buy-back programme.
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