H&M shuts one in five stores to slash costs

By Neil Craven



dmg media (UK)



clothing chain H&M has quietly closed one in five of its shops in the UK, The Mail on Sunday can reveal. The fashion giant – which has become a mainstay of British high streets over the past three decades – has closed 56 stores since its peak in the months before the pandemic struck. It leaves the H&M brand with 192 outlets here, as many town centres struggle to attract shoppers. The retrenchment follows a series of announcements from famous retail groups about slashing shop numbers. Marks & Spencer said last month it would close 67 of its 247 larger locations within the next five years. John Lewis has shut 16 outlets since Covid struck and Mike Ashley’s House of Fraser closed its iconic London flagship earlier this year, among others. Retailers have cut shop numbers to shift investment to their online businesses. Rising costs, including wages and business rates, have also made operating sites less attractive. Other household names, including Debenhams and TopShop, have disappeared from high streets altogether. H&M operates in 75 countries and employs 155,000 staff around the world. The closures are part of a wider strategy to cut costs across the group. It opened its first British store in 1976 as part of plans for global domination. H&M also operates COS, & Other Stories and Monki stores in the UK.