Why H&M Is Permanently Closing Eight Stores in Italy

H&M plans to shutter eight stores in Italy for good.

The fast-fashion retailer is set to permanently close two outposts in the country’s fashion capital of Milan, as well as one in the southern city of Bari. It will also shut down shops in the northern cities of Udine, Vicenza, Bassano del Grappa, Gorizia and in the Tuscan city of Grosseto between August and November.

The closures are part of plans that preceded the coronavirus pandemic, which caused what Italian prime minister Giuseppe Conte called “the most dramatic crisis for the country after World War II.” More than 201,500 people in Italy have been sickened with COVID-19, and at least 27,300 have died.

“The decision to close is linked to the economic sustainability of each specific store,” a spokesperson added in an emailed statement to Reuters, which first reported the news. The company intends to “optimize its store portfolio, add new services online and keep offering clients the best shopping experience, through different channels.”

In a statement to FN, an H&M spokesperson confirmed the closures of the eight stores by the end of the year. “It is a natural part of H&M Group’s business to constantly evaluate locations and to follow the development, which can result in both closures and openings,” the company added.

All of H&M’s stores in Italy have been closed since mid-March. The government has implemented strict lockdown measures across the country, shuttering all nonessential businesses including retail stores, until May 18. (The retailer has more than 5,000 stores in 74 markets.)

Early this month, H&M announced it had secured a 980 million-euro, or $1.1 billion, revolving credit facility to help cushion its business amid the health crisis. The new yearlong bank facility came with the option of a six-month extension. The company also has an undrawn facility worth 700 million euros, or $760 million, which it signed in 2017 and is set to mature in 2024.

H&M warned that it was expecting to post a quarterly loss for the first time in decades in the next three-month period, Q2. The Sweden-based company has already taken several measures to reduce costs: It has furloughed a portion of its workforce in the U.S., while all stores in some of its biggest markets — Germany, the U.K. and the U.S. — remain temporarily closed.

This story has been updated with comments from H&M.

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