H&M axes four UK stores outside London as retailer warned it needs to ‘raise its game’ to differentiate from rival fashion chains
H&M has announced plans to shutter four of its stores across the UK due to a “rapid change” in customer behaviour.
None of the fashion retailers’ London sites have been impacted by the move, however stores in Hartlepool, Maidenhead, Newport in Isle of Wight and Burton are set to close.
A spokesperson for H&M UK and Ireland, said that the physical store is still “extremely important” to the brand and “will be a place for customers to shop”.
The statement said: “During the last few years, we have seen a rapid change in customer behaviour that we cannot ignore.
“We continuously evaluate how we should invest in stores and sometimes decisions must be made to enable long-term growth. This means that we sometimes need to close stores.”
‘H&M’s planned store closures are a necessary move in light of high inflation and given the size of their UK store portfolio,” Jonathan De Mello, founder and chief executive at JDM Retail told City AM.
He said: “H&M’s results are lower than some of their fashion peers too – with the likes of Primark, Next and M&S all posting strong results by comparison over the critical Xmas 2022 trading period. H&M clearly need to raise their game from a product differentiation perspective.
“They used to do this successfully with various designer collaborations, and definitely need to ramp this up further into 2023, to maintain customer interest in light of fierce competition from Primark and others.”
It follows a move in November by H&M, when it revealed it was axing 1,500 job roles in a bid to reduce costs. At the time, the retailer said it estimated that the cuts would boost annual saving by SEK 2bn (£155bn).
Last week, shares in H&M fell 7 per cent. Speaking to the Financial Times, chief executive Helena Helmersson said it had been “a very turbulent quarter” for the brand – blaming hikes in raw materials for the dip. ”