H&M sales hit by warm September

SALES at Hennes & Mauritz (H&M) the world’s second-largest fashion retailer, fell seven per cent on a like for like basis in September as unusually warm weather across Europe dented demand for autumn clothes.

Last year total sales in September, the first month in H&M’s fiscal fourth quarter, rose 16 per cent at the group, while sales in comparable units were up eight per cent.

In the three months to the end of August 2011, H&M sales dropped three per cent on a like-for-like basis leading to a 15.5 per cent fall in profits.

H&M, with more than 2,300 stores in 41 countries, said in September it would speed up its expansion and open 265 new stores in its fiscal year 2010/11, compared with an earlier forecast for 250 new outlets.

The retailer has seen earnings fall for four straight quarters, squeezed by a spike in input costs and the strong crown.

Analysts said same-store sales were a bit disappointing, but should pick up as the weather turns colder.

“We see that the weather in October has changed in most of the European markets, which I believe will drag the customers to the stores.

“I think we’ll see a better October,” Nicolaj Jeppesen, an analyst at Sydbank said.

H&M, which will launch a collection by Italian fashion icon Donatella Versace in November, has said that the negative effect from high cotton prices would drop off after the fourth quarter.