H&M’s new boss says its 5000+ “stores will change” as it focuses on digitalisation

CompaniesNews

H&M is planning to reposition its 5000-plus store estate into logistics hubs focusing on “digital growth” as its new management aims to shake things up.

Last week the world’s second largest fashion retailer H&M revealed a major shake-up of its leadership team as chairman Stefan Persson announced his departure after more than 20 years.

Persson’s successor, son and current chief executive Karl-Johan Persson has since suggested plans to take the company in a new direction, limiting store openings and using its already substantial estate to become logistics hubs for online orders.

“We think the role of the stores will change,” he said.

“How can we use those stores even better as logistical hubs for deliveries, for pick-ups, for returns?”

READ MORE: Fresh leadership for H&M as longtime chair Stefan Persson steps down

This comes as H&M revealed that it was set to open its fewest amount of stores in over a decade, suggesting a shift in focus away from its traditional retail focus.

H&M will open 200 new stores this year while closing 175 stores mainly in Europe, China and the US, leaving a 25 net new stores to be open in 2020.

Instead of investing in expanding its store estate, Persson said the company is now piling funds into digitalisation.

“Among other things, we have invested in digitalisation, a more efficient supply chain – including new logistics centres and logistics systems – and in tech infrastructure, advanced analytics and AI,” he added.

“We are now seeing multiple positive effects of these initiatives, providing resources and support for our continued transformation work.”

H&M’s first female chief executive Helena Helmersson, who will succeed the younger Persson as he takes on the role of company chairman, added: “It is one of the things that will be super exciting to understand going forward: how we see stores today with digital growth moving faster.

“We have a fantastic advantage in terms of our physical store network. It is what we do with it.”

Currently H&M allows online orders to be collected instore in 14 countries and allows online returns to be made in store in 16 countries, but it said it plans to increase both of these capabilities.

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