(7 April 2021) With its extensive business network, the Sweden-based multinational clothing retailer H&M has become one of the world's leading fashion companies. After a decade of continuous expansion, adding around 320 stores per year on average, the company's net increase in number of stores (opens minus closures) was only 108 in 2019, and in 2020 it turned negative. H&M had a total of 5,018 stores, in 74 countries across six continents, at the end of 2020. 

In the last two years, openings of new locations, primarily in new markets, have been outnumbered by closures of existing stores, especially in European countries and the US. This trend is consistent with the company's strategy of promoting online purchases through its growing network of e-commerce stores and fixing the number of its traditional brick-and-mortar locations.

The first H&M store opened in 1947 in Västerås, Sweden, and was a small women’s wear shop. Now, H&M has eight different fashion brands available in its stores worldwide. Since 2008, the company has added about 57,000 employees to its roster of designers, pattern makers, and other staff, increasing the total number of H&M employees to 110,000 in 2020. The number of traditional stores almost tripled during the same period, from 1,738 units in 2008 to 5,018 at the end of 2020.

Today's H&M corporate business model emphasizes sustainability, a concept enabled by the company's global footprint. The company has moved from a traditional store expansion strategy towards online shopping growth and sustainability path performance. According to the company's annual Sustainability Report 2020, H&M aims to achieve full circularity and climate positive status by 2040, and become climate neutral by 2050. The company has also stated a commitment to  gender equality in the workplace and has successfully increased the share of male workers from 20% in 2008 up to 27% in 2019. 

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