H&M swings to loss, affirms China commitment

STOCKHOLM–Sweden’s Hennes & Mauritz AB said Wednesday it is doing all it can to manage challenges in China and find a way forward after it was wiped from the country’s major e-commerce, ride-hailing and map applications amid state criticism for its yearlong decision to not source products from Xinjiang on ethical grounds.

The fashion retailer said China is a very important market and that its long-term commitment to the country remains strong, and that it is dedicated to regaining the trust and confidence of customers, colleagues, and business partners in the country.

“We want to be a responsible buyer, in China and elsewhere, and are now building forward-looking strategies and actively working on next steps with regards to material sourcing,” it said.

At a news briefing in Beijing last week, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said allegations of forced labor being used in Xinjiang were “malicious lies” made up by “anti-China forces.”

In a separate release, the company posted a net loss of 1.07 billion Swedish kronor ($122.4 million) for the quarter ended Feb. 28 compared with a profit of SEK1.93 billion a year earlier. Analysts polled by FactSet had expected a loss of SEK1.17 billion.

Sales fell 27% to SEK40.06 billion, as previously announced, while net sales between March 1 and 28 increased by 55% in local currencies compared with the corresponding period in 2020.

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H&M said that as of Tuesday, around 1,500 stores remain temporarily closed, which is 30% of its total.

The company said it expects there will be good prospects of a dividend in the autumn, but it won’t propose a dividend to the annual general meeting in May.

Write to Dominic Chopping at dominic.chopping@wsj.com

View more information: https://www.marketwatch.com/story/hm-swings-to-loss-affirms-china-commitment-2021-03-31

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