By Dominic Chopping
STOCKHOLM--Hennes & Mauritz AB's Chief Executive Helena Helmersson said on a call following the company's first-quarter earnings that around 20 stores in China had been forced to close amid the backlash from its decision to stop sourcing products from Xinjiang on ethical grounds.
The company was thrust into the spotlight last week after Chinese state media criticized H&M's decision, creating a consumer backlash that saw H&M wiped off China's leading e-commerce, ride-hailing, daily-deals and map applications.
H&M had 502 stores in the country as of the Feb. 28 Feb 2021.
Chief Financial Officer Adam Karlsson said on the call that all of the company's online channels had been shut down.
According to figures in its first-quarter report, China represented around 6% of group sales in the quarter.
H&M released a statement Wednesday saying it is working with colleagues in China to do everything it can to manage the current challenges and find a way forward, while trying to regain the trust and confidence of customers, colleagues, and business partners in the country, but it declined to elaborate further on the call.
The company's original statement released a year ago that said it had ended cotton sourcing from the region has now been removed from its site.
At a news briefing in Beijing last week, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said allegations of forced labor being used in Xinjiang were "malicious lies" made up by "anti-China forces."
Write to Dominic Chopping at email@example.com
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
March 31, 2021 04:49 ET (08:49 GMT)Copyright (c) 2021 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.