H&M confirms ‘long-term commitment’ to China amid boycott
Mar 31, 2021
H&M has emphasised its ‘long-term commitment’ to China amid a boycott launched against the Swedish fashion giant after it pledged to stop sourcing cotton from Xinjiang over reports of slave labour.
“China is a very important market to us and our long-term commitment to the country remains strong,” H&M said Wednesday.
It comes following the resurfacing of a statement the company made last year in which it pledged not to use cotton sourced from China’s western region of Xinjiang.
H&M is now facing backlash from the country’s citizens, state media, and a slew of celebrities over the allegations, while its online presence has been removed from major Chinese retailers like Alibaba and JD.com.
Other big-name brands like Nike, Adidas and Uniqlo are also facing a boycott.
H&M said: “Having been present there for more than thirty years, we have witnessed remarkable progress within the Chinese textile industry. Being at the forefront of innovation and technology, China will clearly continue to play an important role in further developing the entire industry.
“We are proud our suppliers are being part of that development and we want to continue contributing to driving progress together with our partners and stakeholders in the country.”
H&M: ‘We want to be a responsible buyer’
China is facing mounting international criticism over reports it has detained Muslim minorities and forced them into labour in Xinjiang. But the Chinese government claims the work is part of a large-scale poverty alleviation campaign.
The Xinjiang region produces around 85 percent of China’s cotton and 20 percent of the world’s cotton, which is used by fashion companies across the globe.
H&M’s statement continued: “We want to be a responsible buyer, in China and elsewhere, and are now building forward-looking strategies and actively working on next steps with regards to material sourcing. Together with all relevant stakeholders, we want to collaborate to be part of the solution and jointly build a more sustainable fashion industry.
“As a global company, we comply with local laws and regulatory frameworks in all the markets where we operate. Our company values are built on trust, respect, integrity, and dialogue. We wish to focus on our core business and on what we do best – bringing fashion and design to our customers all around the world.
“We are dedicated to regaining the trust and confidence of our customers, colleagues, and business partners in China. By working together with stakeholders and partners, we believe we can take steps in our joint efforts to develop the fashion industry, as well as serve our customers and act in a respectful way.”
Also on Wednesday, H&M revealed it swung to a loss in the first quarter of the year as it continued to feel the impact of the pandemic. It reported a loss after tax of 1.07 billion Swedish kronor in the three months to 28 February, compared to a profit of 1.93 billion kronor a year earlier.
Meanwhile, net sales for the period dropped 21 percent in local currencies to 40.06 billion kronor, with the group citing “extensive restrictions” caused by the second wave of the pandemic.
Image: H&M, Facebook