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H&M stores closed, sales fall as racism woes continue

One of the trashed H&M shops.

One of the trashed H&M shops.

Published Jan 15, 2018

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JOHANNESBURG - Clothing retailer H&M continues to face a massive backlash from the public following the racism scandal that it was hit with last week. 

This weekend, H&M stores were stormed by Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) supporters, who took issue with the degrading of black people in the form of their children's hoodie advert. 

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The online campaign features two kids, a white kid who is seen wearing a orange hoodie with the writing "Mangrove Jungle Survival expert" and the black kid who is wearing a green hoodie with the writing "Coolest Monkey in the Jungle". The company is accused of being racist and lacking in diversity.

On Saturday EFF members stormed the Swedish retailer’s stores in up-market malls in Pretoria, Joburg and Cape Town, upending racks and pushing over shop dummies. 

One of the trashed H&M shops.

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The stores were forced to shut their doors. H&M was unable to state which of its 17 stores nationally would be open today. H&M said it would “continue to monitor the situation closely and will open the stores as soon as the situation is safe again”, read a statement.

EFF supporters at H&M WATCH the trashing... pic.twitter.com/Kw0xUaG4Cb

— Yusuf Abramjee (@Abramjee) January 13, 2018

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Financially speaking for the business, last year didn’t end well for Hennes & Mauritz AB (H&M), and this year has started with a controversy over the “monkey hoodie.”

H&M sales plunged in 2017 after growth weakened, especially in the fourth quarter. Some 51% of analysts advise clients to sell their shares, the biggest proportion of negative ratings since at least early 2003, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. 

The stock is down more than 55% since reaching a high in March 2015.

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The hoodie in question that has caused an uproar. Picture: Twitter The market has priced in “extremely low” growth and additional pressure on margins, according to Hernander, who from Stockholm oversees 100 billion kronor ($12 billion) as head of Nordic, Finnish and Swedish equities.

After objections were first raised abroad, H&M apologised for the advert and withdrew the item from its online store. “We strongly believe that racism and bias in any shape or form, deliberate or accidental, are simply unacceptable,” H&M said in a statement.

“We have got this wrong and we are deeply sorry.”

EFF warned that any other store that undermines black people will also be shut down. EFF commander-in-chief Julius Malema made no apology for his fighters' conduct on Saturday, saying their actions should have taught the massive international retailer a lesson. Referring to the slogan on the T-shirt, he said the humiliation of black people should not be allowed to continue. “No one should make jokes about the dignity of black people.”

EFF spokesperson Floyd Shivambu praised the protest on Twitter, claiming H&M was “facing consequences for its racism”. 

One of the trashed H&M shops. The EFF have not indicated if there would be further protests at H&M stores. 

What is left out in the entire public narrative on #EFFprotest against H&M anti-black racism is that Not Even A Single Item was Stolen or Looted by EFF Ground Forces. How much more peaceful and orderly can a protest be? #Asijiki

— EFF (@EFFSouthAfrica) January 14, 2018

 

We will never be told by any fool on how to fight against our oppression particularly those who have never been at the picket lines. There’s no formula on how you should fight the oppressor, expect more action against all racists, individually and collectively this year.

— Julius Sello Malema (@Julius_S_Malema)

 

- BUSINESS REPORT ONLINE 

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