Fast-fashion giant H&M is on a tear early this year, first with their financial reports indicating strong sales in Q4 up 9%, and big plans for expanding stores in China and the U.S. H&M has also completed a mobile-adapted H&M shop online which was launched in H&M’s 8 existing online markets in January 2013.
According to CEO, Karl-Johan Persson, “H&M continues to stand strong in a challenging clothing market which in many countries has been even more challenging in 2012 compared to 2011. The fact that we increased sales by 11 percent in local currencies and 1 percent in comparable units whilst continuing to gain market share proves once again that customers appreciate our collections, which offer a wide range of inspiring fashion for everyone.
We increased our profits by 1 billion SEK – i.e. an increase of 7 percent compared to the previous year – despite negative effects from large long-term investments and currency translation effects. Our long-term investments relate to a number of areas such as online shopping, IT, a completely new brand & Other Stories and future broadening of the product range. These long-term investments have created cost increases and to a great extent have not yet generated any revenue. However, we consider these investments to be both necessary and wise as they aim to secure future expansion and profits and thereby further strengthen H&M’s position.
We continued our strong expansion and opened 304 new stores net during 2012. Five new markets were added and we created around 10,000 new jobs. Today we have a strong global presence with over 2,800 stores in 48 markets and more than 104,000 employees.
Sustainability is becoming increasingly important and one element of our strong offering is also that our increasingly aware customers see H&M as the more sustainable option. Sustainability is therefore high on our agenda; it is an integral part of our operations and has been so for some time.
The strong pace of expansion is continuing in 2013 with a planned 325 new stores net. This means that we will effectively be opening a new store every day. In 2013 the highest rate of expansion will again be in China and the US. The new H&M countries in 2013 will be Chile, Estonia, Lithuania, Serbia and Indonesia. We are very much looking forward to the spring when we will be able to offer our customers a completely new fashion brand with the opening of the first stores of & Other Stories.”
WWF X H&M For Cutting-Edge Water Strategy
H&M continues its major push with sustainability issues, announcing a new 3-year deal with conservation organization WWF and a new cutting edge water strategy that is a game changer in the fashion industry as it takes the whole supply chain into account and goes far beyond the factory lines.
“This partnership marks an evolution in the corporate approach to water. H&M understands that its long-term success depends on access to adequate water supplies. It also understands that its social license to operate depends on being a good neighbor and good steward of shared resources. H&M’s water strategy is an integral part of its business plan. We hope other companies will be inspired to take the same approach,” says Jim Leape, Director General of WWF International.
During 2012, WWF and H&M performed a comprehensive evaluation of all H&M´s efforts and challenges in connection with water which formed the basis of the new H&M water strategy. Starting in 2013, WWF and H&M will implement this together, and according to WWF no other fashion company has such a comprehensive global water strategy.
H&M designers and buyers will receive additional training in the water impacts of raw material production as well as wet processes for different styles, to promote more sustainable choices. WWF and H&M will work in collaboration with public policy makers, NGO´s, water institutions and other companies to support better management of particular river basins in China and Bangladesh.
“Water is a key resource for H&M and we are committed to ensure that water is used responsibly throughout our value chain. We do this to minimize risks in our operations, to protect the environment and to secure the availability of water. We are proud of the partnership with WWF which we hope will inspire others to follow, “says Karl-Johan Persson, CEO of H&M.
H&M will also improve its internal water efficiency, minimize its suppliers’ impact on water, train all staff in water issues and inspire customers to use water responsibly. In addition, H&M will support the WWF conservation projects on water in the Yangtze River basin in China.
Currently, 2.7 billion people – roughly 40 per cent of the world’s population – live in river basins that experience severe water scarcity during at least one month of the year, according to WWF’s 2012 Living Planet Report. About a third of the units which perform wet processes for H&M are located in areas which are now, or will be by 2025, considered extreme water scarce. This partnership builds on 10 years of H&M’s work to reduce negative water impacts in different parts of the value chain.
Vanessa Paradis Becomes Face of Conscious
H&M has also announced that Vanessa Paradis will be the face of Conscious at H&M this spring, wearing pieces in the campaign that are both on-trend and also more sustainable. It is all part of H&M’s ongoing commitment to a more sustainable fashion future, showing that the best fashion can be made from Conscious materials.
The actress and singer wear pieces as a ruffle-edged yellow sundress, as well as an embellished zip-up utility jacket worn with botanical print trousers. The pieces are part of a collection full of optimism for spring, with romantic styles like a floor-length dress alongside sporty shapes such as a cropped jumpsuit and a tropical print T-shirt dress. There are accessories too, such as ankle-strap heels, and the entire collection is made from more sustainable materials, such as organic cotton, recycled polyester, and Tencel.
The full women’s collection will be available in H&M stores worldwide as well as online from end of March, alongside Conscious collections for Men – blazers, chinos, Ikat print shirts and shorts – as well as fun prints for kids and babies.
Vanessa Paradis says, “I like being part of something like the Conscious collection at H&M. I try my best to shop consciously, and vintage is very much part of my wardrobe. I love the style and it works in an eco-friendly way because I like to use and reuse old clothes.”
Coinciding with the campaign will be the launch of a Conscious garment collecting action at H&M. Customers will be able to bring any unwanted garments from any label to selected stores, and in return for each bag receive an H&M voucher, to a maximum of two bags per customer per day. H&M is the first store to encourage garment return on this scale, in an effort to prevent clothing from going to landfill.