By Associated Press - Thursday, January 30, 2020

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) - Swedish low-cost fashion brand Hennes & Mauritz AB says its net sales have increased by 11% to 232.7 billion kronor ($24.2 billion) last year “in an ever-changing fashion industry.”

The Stockholm-based group says its full year gross profit increased by 9% to 33.3 million kronor ($3.5 million).

The growth in sales was driven by both in-store and online sales, with a strong increase in online sales of 24% in kronor while sales in the fourth quarter “was good in many markets,” the group said.

It singled out India where sales hiked by 33%, Poland where it increased by 21%, Mexico with 18% and Russia with 12%. Sales in the U.S. and UK increased by 6% and 3%, respectively.

“This positive performance shows that we are on the right track,” said outgoing chief executive Karl-Johan Persson.

“In view of the ongoing transformation of fashion retail, we have been making significant and necessary investments for several years to secure the H&M group’s position and long-term development,” he added

The group also announced a change in its leadership with Helena Helmersson becoming the new CEO while Stefan Persson - the board chairman for the past 20 years - will step down as at the AGM and proposes that Persson, who had been chief executive for the past decade, succeed him.

Helmersson, born in 1973, joined H&M in 1997 and worked her way up. She most recent was chief operating officer with responsibility for expansion, logistics, production, and IT, among others.

Besides H&M, the group includes brands like COS, Monki, Weekday, Cheap Monday, & Other Stories, H&M HOME, ARKET and Afound. The group has 51 online markets and more than 5,000 stores in 74 markets including franchise markets and employs approximately 179,000 people.

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