Fashion giant H&M is to permanently close 170 stores, with COS, Weekday and Monki outlets also set to be affected.
The move, which is likely to involve hundreds of job cuts, comes after sales fell 50% during lockdown across Europe.
The Swedish retailer said it’s added an extra 40 stores to proposed closures this year – though 130 branches will reopen elsewhere.
In a company statement, H&M said it saw a 23% net decrease in sales for the first half of the year and a 50% decrease in sales for the second quarter.
H&M Group, which also includes brands such as COS, Weekday and Monki, will close 170 stores in total, however, it has not yet announced which brands and locations will be affected.
“Our physical stores are incredibly important to us and we want to ensure that we have H&M stores in the right locations.
“In the Six month report, H&M Group has previously announced that on a global level, it will close around 170 of around 5000 stores around the world, across all of its 7 brands, this will be alongside 130 store openings globally. At this stage we cannot comment on how this might affect stores in the UK,” a H&M spokesman told Mirror Money.
In March, H&M said its sales tumbled as it was forced to temporarily close its stores because of coronavirus.
The company said that its business was “significantly negatively affected by the Covid-19 situation, particularly in the second quarter.”
H&M has since reopened hundreds of stores in the UK, though many are operating under local restrictions and reduced hours.
The retailer said it has been following government guidance for all UK regions, including a one-in-one-out queueing system, closed fitting rooms and a 72-hour hold time on returned items.
H&M chief executive, Helena Helmersson, said: “Covid-19 continues to impact people, communities and companies around the world and I am full of admiration for our employees’ commitment, drive and perseverance during this very challenging time. The safety of our employees and customers remains our highest priority and we are reopening stores in line with decisions by the authorities.
“Before the pandemic hit, we performed strongly – a result of many years of long-term investments to create the best offering for our customers and to meet the digital shift in the industry. This, combined with the fact that we have acted quickly to counter the negative effects of Covid-19 and that we are speeding up the transformation of the H&M Group, makes me convinced that we will come out of the current crisis stronger,” she added.
The announcement comes as Intu, which owns 17 shopping centres in the UK and two in Europe, called in KPMG to overhaul its business in June.
The business, which owns Manchester’s Trafford Centre and the Lakeside complex in Essex, has been struggling with £4.5billion worth of debt and was hoping to reach a “standstill” with lenders last month.
These are the shopping centres at risk of closure.