STOCKHOLM, Sweden — Swedish clothing retailer Hennes & Mauritz AB is laying the groundwork for a debut issue of bonds after store closures and weak consumption due to the pandemic led to its first loss in at least a decade.
The company also said Friday it set up an extra commercial paper programme to be able to borrow in currencies other than Swedish kronor. H&M said it’s ensuring financial flexibility in a challenging market where business opportunities may arise.
Companies around the world are rushing to the bond market to raise more money than ever before, spurred by low rates. June is on track to be one of the busiest months ever for US high-yield issuance, contributing to a global corporate sales tally nearing $2 trillion.
“It’s about increasing our toolbox,” said H&M Chief Financial Officer Adam Karlsson in a TV interview. “It’s more of a long-term plan.”
For now, opportunities for H&M look scarce. Europe’s second-largest clothing chain operator cut this year’s store opening plan and now expects 40 net closures rather than an increase of 35 shops. Inventory remains a perennial problem at 40 billion kronor ($4 billion), a record level in relation to annual sales. The retailer warned it needs to offer bigger discounts this quarter, which will erode profitability.
Shares of H&M dropped as much as 3.7 percent in Stockholm. They have lost a quarter of their value this year.
While 80 percent of H&M stores had to shut in the middle of April, most have since reopened and only 7 percent remain closed. However, many shops have local restrictions to maintain hygiene and shorter opening hours.
H&M’s pretax loss amounted to 6.48 billion kronor in the three months through May, worse than analysts expected. The sales decline has moderated to 25 percent so far this month from 50 percent in the second quarter, and the company said the bounceback is better than expected.
The retailer has been taking measures to shore up cash, which stood at 12.7 billion kronor at the end of May. Earlier this year, H&M canceled its dividend.
The company also said it hasn’t made any decision about a first bond issue.
By Anton Wilen.