Inditex, owner of chains like Zara, has achieved record sales in the third quarter: sales were 10 % better compared to 2019, pre-Covid. Eternal rival H&M has also returned to pre-pandemic levels.
Back on track
After a year and a half of being in the grip of the Covid crisis, Inditex and H&M Group, the world’s two largest fashion holding companies, can resume their normal growth trajectory. Inditex even set a record for its sales in the third quarter: sales reached 7.4 billion euros, 10 % higher than in the same period of 2019.
At H&M, quarterly sales clocked in at 57 billion Swedish crowns (5.5 billion euros), up 6 % compared to 2019. For the entire fiscal year, which, for H&M, runs from December to the end of November, the Swedish group achieved 199 billion crowns (19 billion euros) in sales, up 6 % compared to 2020. CEO Helena Helmersson herself speaks of a strong recovery, although Covid measures and restrictions are still being felt.
Further revival needed
However, with the fourth quarter seemingly coinciding with a fourth international wave, the recovery may be short-lived. Both fashion giants also understand they need to revive themselves regardless. At Inditex, Marta Ortega, founder Amancio Ortega’s daughter, is taking over as chair of the board, with Óscar García Maceiras as brand-new CEO.
Maceiras strongly believes in the vertically integrated model of Inditex (and H&M), whereby the company controls both the production and distribution of clothes. This would also strengthen the online proposition, as the e-commerce and the physical stores are monitored in the same way and on the same IT platform. This way, both sales channels can be linked seamlessly. Over the nine months leading up to the end of October, Inditex sold 28 % more online compared to 2020 and twice as much as in 2019.
A vertically integrated model, however, does not stand in the way of partnerships. For example, H&M just announced another local collaboration with Belgian formula Le Freddie: the Antwerp duo will offer a selection of vintage pieces in H&M stores in Antwerp, Ghent and Brussels in February. Meanwhile, Zara is taking its first steps into the metaverse in collaboration with Korean brand Ader Error: the remarkable capsule collection will exist both virtually and physically.