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H&M appoints first female CEO during leadership reshuffle

Hennes & Mauritz AB (H&M) has named Helena Helmersson as its new CEO. The appointment follows a board reshuffle in which outgoing chief executive Karl-Johan Persson stepped down from his role with immediate effect to take over as board chairman, after his father Stefan announced he would relinquish that role.

“It is my desire that there will be a change in the chairmanship at the coming AGM and that Karl-Johan will take over my role as chairman of the board. It is a natural change, after 20 years as chairman, to hand over to Karl-Johan, who has been CEO for more than 10 years. I will continue to be a committed owner, just as today, but from a different position," said Stefan Persson.

The Swedish fashion giant reported its first rise in annual profit since 2015, with strong fourth-quarter profit growth.

"... The timing is favourable for making this change now since we have gradually improved profits and have a strong position with many well-established brands, millions of customers worldwide and good financial strength. We have moved from one brand to become a multi-brand company with today nine brands.

"In recent years we have made substantial and necessary investments in our joint group infrastructure – mostly in logistics, tech, data and AI – investments that now are starting to pay off in terms of increased customer satisfaction, sales and profits,“ Stefan added.

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Company veteran

Helmersson's new position as H&M CEO came on to effect on Thursday. Considered somewhat of a company veteran, Helmersson started at H&M in 1997 as an economist at H&M’s buying department and thereafter held various roles within buying and production. She was sustainability manager for five years and after that production manager based in Hong Kong.

For just over a year she has been chief operating officer with responsibility for expansion, logistics, production, IT, advanced analytics and AI, and insights and analytics.

Helmersson commented, ”I am very incentivised and humble ahead of the task. I look forward to driving the plan forward together with my colleagues, with a focus on the customer to continue strengthening our financial development in the short and long term. There is great potential to expand with existing and new brands, with new types of partnerships and to continue leading the development towards a sustainable fashion industry."
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CFO appointments

Over the years, the CEO and the CFO have always worked very closely together. Karl-Johan Persson has therefore asked Jyrki Tervonen, CFO of the H&M group since 2008, to become CEO at Ramsbury Invest, which is formally the parent company of H & M Hennes & Mauritz AB. Jyrki Tervonen will take up his new position at Ramsbury on 1 July 2020.

Adam Karlsson, currently head of controlling at the H&M brand, will take over as CFO for the H&M group.



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