H&M ‘wise’ about China after boycotting shoppers | So Good News


H&M has “careful good” in China as it struggles to recover from a prolonged consumer boycott in what was once one of the biggest markets for clothing.

In her first public statement since restarting in March 2021, chief executive Helena Helmersson told the Financial Times that the Swedish retailer is recovering in China. “We are hopeful. We are following the right path, but it is slow. There is still something going on.”

H&M has sparked outrage among Chinese consumers against foreign brands that have tried to distance themselves from forced labor in the western province of Xinjiang.

The online campaign, promoted by state media, called for boycotts of the world’s second-largest fashion market as well as brands such as Nike, Adidas, Zara and Uniqlo.

H&M said in 2020 – which was seized by Chinese authorities the following year – that it was “deeply concerned” by reports of forced labor in Xinjiang.

The retailer was removed from the two largest online shopping malls in China, Alibaba’s Tmall and JD.com, in 2021. It returned to Tmall at the end of August.

When asked if H&M was required to repay the money to get its Chinese business back on track, a spokesperson said: “We continue to strive to provide the best customer service for our customers in China. And China is an important market for us.

“Having said that, we’re not back to the level we would have liked, but we’re continuing to make progress and we’re confident about the future.”

Helmersson cited the “international challenges” H&M faced in China and Russia, where it closed its business after Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

The retailer on Thursday blamed the shutdown of its Russian operations as well as rising raw material prices and the strength of the US dollar for its 89% drop in the third quarter as it imposed SKr2bn ($180mn) in cost cuts. program.

Things have gotten worse. It all depends on what you accelerate and where you pull the brakes, “said Helmersson, adding that the retailer is avoiding giving all the expensive money to customers. It was going through a lot in its women’s and high-end categories but less in children’s clothing, he said.

The cost cuts will include job losses as the company plans to have a “simpler and more efficient team,” the executive added.

When asked if H&M had taken any lessons on how to communicate in China after the disagreement, Helmersson replied: “We can learn a lot about communication with customers. Being relevant locally is important. Strengthening our offer, communication and experience in this market seems to be the best way forward.”


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