H&M and Zara Are Closing Stores to Get Ahead
Europe's fast fashion giants may have been slow to wake up to the threat posed by e-commerce, but it looks more and more like they have raised their game enough to survive—and maybe even prosper.
Hennes & Mauritz, the Swedish company behind H&M, Monki and Weekday, and Spain-based Inditex (owner of Zara and Massimo Dutti) are both seeing the benefits of decisions taken last year to trim their networks of physical stores and throw more resources into online sales.
Eighteen months ago, H&M was still struggling with another makeover of its online store and seemingly hell bent on opening more stores that would never pay for themselves.
Fast forward to this summer—a tumultuous one for stocks—and H&M has managed to hold on to the 15% gain it made when it announced its most recent quarterly earnings in late June.
The results were notable for two reasons: one, its summer collections arrived with a bang, with sales rising 12% from a year earlier; second, it said it expected to whittle away its unsold inventory for the fourth quarter in a row, and forecast it would continue falling through the fiscal year-end.
Shares are now up by one-third from the 14-year low they hit last August.