H&M profit drops as retailer adapts to more online shopping

STOCKHOLM — Swedish low-cost fashion brand Hennes & Mauritz AB said Thursday its fourth-quarter profit dropped about 10 percent to 3.5 billion kronor ($390 million) as consumers continued to shift to online shopping.

The Stockholm-based group retailer said quarterly sales increased by 12 percent to 56.4 million kronor ($6.22 million), while full-year sales rose 5 percent to 210.4 billion kronor ($23.2 billion).

Chief Executive Karl-Johan Persson said 2018 had been a "challenging year" but that the company is changing to adapt to new customer habits, including more online shopping.

"Changing consumer behavior and technological innovation will continue to transform how and when people shop," he said. "We have further to go, and there will continue to be challenges ahead, but the progress we have made ... reinforces the strength of our strategy and gives us confidence to move ahead at full speed."

The group continued to expand its online sales, which rose 22 percent to about 30 billion kronor ($3.3 billion). Online sales now make up 14.5 percent of the company's overall sales.

Besides H&M, the group includes brands like COS, Monki, Weekday, Cheap Monday, & Other Stories, H&M HOME, ARKET and Afound. It has about 4,900 stores in 71 markets and more than 177,000 employees. It sells online in 47 markets.

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