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The company, for years a fast-fashion darling, says it’s having trouble persuading customers to buy its clothes. Sales are slipping, profits are down to their lowest level in 16 years, and inventory is way up, H&M parent company Hennes & Mauritz said Tuesday. Shares of the retailer’s stock fell about 6.8 percent Tuesday, to their lowest level since 2005.
“The rapid transformation of the fashion retail sector continues,” H&M chief executive Karl-Johan Persson said in a statement. “The start of the year has been tough. Weak sales combined with substantial markdowns had a significant negative impact on results in the first quarter.”
A confluence of factors have led to H&M’s troubles, analysts say. Chief among them: Millennials are growing up and are more interested in buying well-made clothes than in buying cheap items. There is also more competition from companies like Zara, Topshop, Uniqlo and Asos — all of which customers tend to associate with higher-quality clothing and better websites, according to Milton Pedraza, chief executive of the Luxury Institute, a New York-based market research firm.
“Millennials are looking for quality over quantity, which means they no longer want throwaway products,” Pedraza said. “They care less about fashion and more about classic and quality, neither of which H&M has been able to deliver.”
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