H&M CEO Abruptly Resigns Weeks After Advertisement Scandal: 'It Has Been Very Demanding' Helena Helmersson has been with the company for 26 years.

By Emily Rella

entrepreneur daily
CAISA RASMUSSEN/TT News Agency/AFP via Getty Images
Helena Helmersson, CEO of Swedish retail clothing company H&M (Hennes & Mauritz), addresses a press conference to present her company's half-year business report, on June 29, 2023.

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.

Emily Rella

Entrepreneur Staff

Senior News Writer

Emily Rella is a Senior News Writer at Entrepreneur.com. Previously, she was an editor at Verizon Media. Her coverage spans features, business, lifestyle, tech, entertainment, and lifestyle. She is a 2015 graduate of Boston College and a Ridgefield, CT native. Find her on Twitter at @EmilyKRella.

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