H&M is the world’s second-largest fashion retailer after Inditex and the UK is its third largest market, generating subsidiary sales of £1,054.9m for 2017/18, a dip of 0.7% in a challenging marketplace.

The retailer trades through various fascias with slightly different target markets. In the UK, this consists of 300 outlets across the H&M, Cos, & Other Stories, Monki, Weekday and Arket brands. It also operates the Afound discount marketplace in Sweden and the Netherlands.

With sales and profits coming under pressure, H&M is piloting the sale of third-party brands in a bid to compete more directly with the likes of Asos and Zalando.

H&M had fallen well behind in the technology department, but over the past few years has roared ahead with several omnichannel developments which have paid dividends. The retailer has added app features such as barcode scanning, visual search, and in-store stock checking and then tied these together to create an Instore Mode.

The retailer also opened a new 786,000 sq ft omnichannel warehouse in Milton Keynes in 2019 with efficiency-driving technologies, such as automation, at the forefront of operations.

In January 2020, the retailer appointed a new CEO, Helena Helmersson, who has been with the business for over 20 years. At the time of her promotion, H&M set out a plan to focus on integrating its physical and digital offers, investing in technology and securing the best product assortment, which Helmersson will lead.

H&M launched its UK website in 2010 and by late 2019 it had an online presence in more than 50 markets.

Innovation rating: 3.5

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