After the recent difficulties in China, the Swedish fashion chain H&M is now also in trouble in Spain and Vietnam. In the southern European country, the Swedes want to close 30 stores, while in Vietnam, a boycott is taking place.
H&M wants to reorganise its store teams in Spain and close thirty outlets (27 H&M and 3 Cos branches). Furthermore, there would be “substantial” changes in working conditions, including a reduction in the number of contractually agreed hours of some employees. In total, up to 1,100 employees would be affected by the plans, reports El Periódico. The closures would be carried out in phases and would be completed by next year at the latest. The trade unions call the plan “disproportionate”.
The company defends itself by arguing that the retail industry is currently undergoing an enormous digital transformation. The constant growth of the online channel at the expense of physical stores requires a different structure that can better respond to changed consumer behaviour. H&M wants to use the changes to boost the multichannel experience of consumers, it says. Besides, the Sweden-based company promises to keep as many jobs as possible by transferring employees internally wherever possible. If it’s not possible, the company will support employees who have to leave the company with the search for their new job.
Boycott in Vietnam
Meanwhile, the fashion company is also under fire in Vietnam, writes Nikkei Asia. Vietnamese Twitter and Facebook users are calling to boycott H&M after the clothing chain posted a controversial map of the South China Sea on its website. On the map, some islands in the South China Sea were coloured in as Chinese territory, but Vietnam also claims the islands. Ironically, the controversial map was posted to appease a Chinese boycott: there, H&M clashed with the government because it loudly questioned forced labour practices of the Uighur minority in Western China.