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H&M says one fifth of stores still shuttered by pandemic

·1-min read
Closed shop due to the COVID-19 pandemic in Munich

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - Around 1,050 of H&M's around 5,000 stores remain temporarily closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and government measures to stop it, a spokesman at the Swedish group said on Thursday.

H&M, the world's second-biggest fashion retailer, is due to report sales for the December-February period, its fiscal first quarter, on March 15. Analysts on average forecast a 28% drop in net sales from a year ago, according to Refinitiv SmartEstimate.

Biggest rival Inditex, the owner of Zara, on Wednesday forecast a return to healthy sales as soon as lockdowns are lifted, as it reported a 70% fall in profit for its fiscal year through January.

Inditex predicted all its shops would be open by mid-April. Around 15% of its stores remain temporarily closed.

H&M, whose full first-quarter earnings report is due on March 31, is bracing for a loss in the period after the pandemic slashed 2020 profits by 88%.

(Reporting by Anna Ringstrom; editing by Niklas Pollard)