The group achieved net sales growth of 18% in local currencies and converted into SEK, increased by 23% to SEK49.17 billion (US$5.23 billion).

H&M reports that well-received collections led to a higher share of full-price sales and lower costs for markdown, though financials were impacted by pandemic affects in many major markets. Gross profit increased to SEK24.26 billion (US$2.58 billion), corresponding to a gross margin of 49.3%.

The H&M group reports that it has paused all sales in Russia, Belarus and Ukraine, resulting in a total of 185 affected stores. For the period of March 2022, net sales increased by 6% year-on-year in local currencies. Excluding Russia, Belarus and Ukraine, the increase was 11%.

Despite the pandemic and geopolitical restrictions, H&M continued expansion in the quarter, opening its first store in Cambodia via a franchise. New markets in 2022 going forward will include Ecuador, Kosovo and North Macedonia and, via franchises, Costa Rica and Guatemala. The group plans to open its first store in Albania in 2023.

CEO Helena Helmersson said: “Having ended last year with sales back at the same level as before the pandemic and in a strong financial position, we started the new year with increased initiatives to create an even better foundation for long-term growth.

”The initiatives mainly involve continuing to develop the customer experience by, for example, further broadening the assortment and integrating the sales channels, and by continuing to invest in infrastructure such as tech and the supply chain, but also in renewable energy and sustainable materials.

”In addition to the general consequences of the pandemic such as disruptions and delays in the supply chain, some of our major markets were impacted by a new wave of the pandemic in the first quarter.

”Despite this, we saw a recovery of sales in physical stores compared with last year, while online sales continued to perform well. This shows the value of having both physical and digital channels which strengthen and complement each other. Well-received collections led to full-price sales continuing to increase which led to a more than expected decrease of markdowns.”