- Helena Helmersson, 51, joined the Swedish company in 1997
- In his first year at the helm of H&M, profits fell 88% due to store closures.
- The new general manager is Daniel Erver, who has worked at H&M for 18 years.
The chief executive of H&M Group has resigned with immediate effect as the fashion giant struggles to increase sales in the face of intense competition.
Helena Helmersson, 51, who joined the Swedish company in 1997 before rising through the ranks to become CEO four years ago, said the role had been “very demanding” and later told reporters she didn’t have the energy to continue.
H&M on Wednesday reported revenue growth of just 1% for 2023 in local currency, with sales falling in the fourth quarter when operating profits fell short of expectations at 4.33 billion crowns.
The figures end a tumultuous reign for Helmersson, which saw profits fall 88 percent in its first year as rival retailers like Shein and Zara-owner Inditex gradually gained market share at the expense of band.
New boss: H&M Group CEO Helena Helmersson (left) has resigned as CEO to be replaced by Daniel Erver (right)
Last year, Zara overtook H&M to become Europe’s second-largest clothing seller, just behind Nike, which overtook the Stockholm-based company the year before.
H&M also suffered from the stagnation of summer sales caused by unfavorable weather conditions and the decision to limit price increases in a context of high inflationary pressures for households.
Helmersson’s replacement is Daniel Erver, who has been with H&M for 18 years, most recently as head of the H&M brand.
Erver, 42, was previously general manager and also head of merchandising for the company’s U.S. and German operations, as well as business unit director for men’s and women’s clothing.
Karl-Johan Persson, Chairman of the H&M Group, said: “(Helmersson) has led and steered the H&M Group decisively and effectively through a period largely marked by pandemic, geopolitical and macroeconomic challenges.
“During this period, we have gradually taken clear steps to achieve our long-term goals. The H&M Group is in a strong position, with a positive profitability trend and good conditions for further improvements in 2024.’
The new appointment comes on the same day that H&M announced its annual results showing that its total net sales increased by 6 percent to 236 billion Swedish crowns for the year ending in November.
Trading was boosted by increased demand for the company’s “portfolio brands”, such as COS, Arket and Weekday, and growth across the Americas and Western Europe despite cost of living pressures and the closure of certain stores.
Operating profits also more than doubled to 14.5 billion crowns, which Helmersson attributes to higher gross margins thanks to an improved supply chain and “continued normalization of external factors that influence costs purchase”.
Additionally, sales have fallen 4 percent since the beginning of December, partly due to increased costs from lower prices.
After the results were released, H&M shares fell 7.3 percent to 156.02 crowns on Wednesday morning.