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H&M to avoid price rises at all costs

H&M said it would do its best to avoid raising prices this autumn as it prepared to take advantage of opportunities to open more stores in the wake of the recession.

Head of investor relations Nils Vinge said the fast-fashion chain would make every effort not to increase prices to the consumer in the wake of increased costs from currency fluctuations.
Vinge said: “Price is a very important factor and the customer should always get a good deal. It’s dangerous to raise prices, especially in times like this. Our prices on comparable items are the same as this time last year. We can’t say anything for definite, but we always base our prices on the customer, not on our costs.”

Currency fluctuations contributed to a 1.3% fall in gross margin to 61% in the second quarter to May 31.

H&M’s UK sales were up 6% to SEK 1.9 billion (£148.9m) for the second quarter to May 31. UK sales rose 4% to SEK 3.6 billion (£282.2m) for the six months to May 31, a rise of 6% in local currencies.

Vinge said: “In general in this downturn all of our markets are affected. The UK is challenging but H&M is satisfactory given the circumstances.”

He said H&M was still on the expansion trail globally and in the UK, and was ready to take advantage of new opportunities to open stores in the recession.

Vinge added that the Matthew Williamson for H&M collection, which went into stores in April, had been a hit with shoppers. Best-selling items in the UK were a printed kaftan and parrot-print dress for women. In the men’s collection, the most popular pieces were scarves, a Cuban-style short-sleeved shirt and a studded leather jacket.

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