H&M to debut e-commerce portal this year

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Clothing retailer H&M will launch a US e-commerce site at the end of this year, as well as expand its catalog operations. The Stockholm-based retailer made the announcement January 27 during its fourth quarter earnings when it reported worse-than-expected results, including an 11% year-over-year drop in profit.

H&M is the world's third-largest fashion chain, by revenue, behind Spain's Inditex SA and US-based Gap Inc. It rolled out an e-commerce portal in Europe last September but does not possess one in the US.

“We are expanding our online and catalog sales,” Karl-Johan Persson, CEO of H&M, said on the earnings call. “Around year-end, we plan to start online sales in the US, the world's largest online market.”

The company also tweeted that “H&M has decided to have online shopping in the US at the turn of the year.” The company did not respond to calls seeking comment.

The Stockholm-based retailer closed out its fourth quarter, which ended November 30, with an 11% year-over-year drop in profit to $848.2 million. Revenue for the three-month period increased 6% year-over-year to $4.6 billion. Revenue rose by 7% to $16.9 billion for the full fiscal year. Gross profit for the year was $10.6 billion.

The company saw a net profit of $2.89 billion for the fiscal year from December 2009 to the end of November 2010. The company attributed the results to the rising costs of cotton, the strength of the Swedish krona and its own price cutting.

Despite these challenges, H&M said it plans to open 250 new stores this year.

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