H&M CEO Abruptly Resigns Weeks After Advertisement Scandal: ‘It Has Been Very Demanding’

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There’s been another shakeup in retail leadership as the CEO of H&M Group, Helena Helmersson, abruptly stepped down after four years in the position.

“I am very proud of what we, together, have achieved during the last years when we have navigated through the pandemic and several geopolitical and macroeconomic challenges,” Helmersson said in a company statement. “However, it has been very demanding, at times, for me personally, and I now feel that it is time to leave the CEO role, which, of course, has not been an easy decision.”

Helmersson first joined H&M in 1997 as a business controller before working her way up to COO of the H&M Group in September 2018. She became CEO in January 2020.

Related: Want to Return Your Online Order? At H&M, It May Cost You

Helmersson will be immediately replaced by Daniel Erver, who most recently served as the managing director of the H&M brand. He has been with the company for 18 years.

Shares tumbled upwards of 12% upon the news after a weaker-than-expected earnings report for the fiscal year beginning on December 1, 2022 through November 30, 2023.

“For many consumers the year was marked by lower purchasing power because of high inflation and high interest rates,” Helmersson said in a company release. “The fourth quarter started with unusually hot weather in several of our important European markets. From mid-October, sales recovered as more normal autumn weather returned.”

Though up during fiscal 2023, sales in December 2023 through January 2024 (the company’s first fiscal quarter) saw a 4% drop from the same time the year prior — a bad sign during the crucial holiday shopping season.

At the same time last year, sales during that period saw a 5% increase.

H&M has faced increasing competition from other fast-fashion retailers, such as rival Zara and e-commerce behemoths like Shein. The brand was also at the center of controversy earlier this month for a back-to-school advertisement that featured children with the tagline “Make those heads turn” after allegations that it exploited children.

“We have removed this ad,” the company said in a statement at the time. “We are deeply sorry for the offense this has caused and will look into how we present campaigns going forward.”

As of Wednesday afternoon, H&M was up 16% year over year but still down 12% in a 24-hour period.

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