H&M closes 20 stores in China amid Xinjiang cotton controversy

Chinese landlords forced some shops to close, activists demand apology from company

An H&M store at a shopping mall in Beijing 

An H&M store at a shopping mall in Beijing  (AP photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Swedish fast-fashion retailer H&M was forced to close 20 stores in China following local uproar over its stance on Xinjiang cotton, reports said Wednesday (March 31).

A months-old company statement about reports of Uyghur forced labor surfaced over the past week, triggering protests by angry Chinese consumers. They have also targeted other major foreign brands, such as Nike, Adidas, and Burberry.

In the wake of the uproar, the Swedish group shut down about 20 of its 500 outlets in the communist country, the New York Times reported Wednesday. Some of the closures might have been the result of Chinese landlords forcing out the shops, while local consumers vowed to boycott the brand.

On Wednesday, H&M CEO Helena Helmersson underlined the company’s long-term commitment to China, but a statement emphasizing it would try and regain “the trust and confidence of our customers, colleagues, and business partners in China” was seen as too vague. Chinese activists attacked her for not offering an apology.

Worldwide, the Swedish fashion group had shuttered 1,800 stores temporarily due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the New York Times reported.

Updated : 2021-04-10 20:39 GMT+08:00