Stefan Persson is Sweden’s richest person with a net worth of 25.4 billion dollars. He is the man behind the success of budget fashion retailer Hennes & Mauritz, or H&M. H&M is the world’s second-biggest retailer of private label apparel. The company reported a revenue of 20.2 billion dollars in 2020. Stefan Persson owns 36% of the stake in the company and has served as the CEO from 1982 to 1998 and later as the Chairman of the Board from 1998 to 2020. Hennes & Mauritz is a Swedish clothing company known for its budget clothing for men, women, teenagers, and children. H&M controls over five thousand stores in 74 countries with 126,000 full-time employees. It is the second-largest clothing company behind Spain based company ‘Tempe Grupo Inditex.’ Inditex is the company that owns the famous clothing line, Zara.
History of H&M
H&M was founded by Stefan Persson’s father, Erling Persson, in 1947 when he opened his first shop in Sweden. Erling Persson started the business shortly after visiting New York after World War II, where he was impressed by the stylish clothing that was available at a cheaper cost. The shop was named ‘Hennes,’ which means hers in Sweden, which sold women’s only clothing. The company expanded to Stockholm, Sweden, and soon became the fashion icon in the country. It eventually extended its reach to Norway in 1964. Later in 1968, hunting and fishing equipment store Mauritz Widforss was acquired, and the merger was renamed Hennes & Mauritz. In 1974, H&M went public and was listed on the Stockholm stock exchange. After two years, the company opened its first store in London, the first store to be opened outside Scandinavia. In 1982, Stefan Persson became the CEO of H&M. In his leadership, the company expanded around the globe. Under his supervision, the company has employed 126,000 employees in over 74 countries. H&M’s revenue currently exceeds 20 billion dollars.
The rise of Stefan Persson
Stefan Persson is renowned for pioneering celebrity and designer collaborations bringing high fashion names to the fast fashion market. Notably, H&M has collaborated with celebrities like Stella Mccartney, Donatella Francesca Versace, Mathew Williamson, David Beckham, Beyoncé, Marni, Lanvin, and Jimmy Choo. He immediately started expansion to brand new markets such as Europe, Netherlands, Belgium, Austria, Luxemburg, Finland, and France.
Growth and Expansion of the Company
The first H&M stores in the USA and Spain opened in 2000. In subsequent years, H&M opened more stores in European markets. In 2006, the first franchise stores were opened in the Middle East. In 2007, new stores were opened in Shanghai, Hong Kong, and Tokyo. In 2013, the company opened 3000 stores in Chengdu, China. The first H&M stores in Southern Hemisphere were opened in Chile and Indonesia. In 2015, new stores were opened in India, South Africa, and New Zealand. In 2017, the company opened more stores in Kazakhstan, Colombia, Vietnam, and Georgia. In 1998, Stefan Persson realized the potential of e-commerce and started I.T. operations. He bought the domain hm.com and started selling online. His company was among the first stores to sell online. Later in 2006, the company received significant shopping from the online stores in Europe. It was a great success. In 2008, the online operations were expanded to China, the Philippines, South Korea, and Japan. In 1998, Stefan appointed Fabian Mansen, a former stake board champion, CEO. Fabian developed a new business model which involved the designers sitting in pubs, clubs, bars, watching rock concerts, and observing parents with their kids. The new model revolved around attending sporting events and looking for new combinations rather than following fashion shows.
Changes in the Administration of H&M
In 2000, the first quarter was expected to drop nearly 12%, which caused panic in the stock market, and H&M shares fell by 30%. The developments caused Mansen to resign. Ralph was appointed CEO of the company where previously he was heading the Sweden and Denmark operations. According to Reuters, Stefan said in a statement, “The retailer’s expansion and new CEO will enhance H&M’s focus on increasing sales and profit. Plans include the March 30th opening of H&M’s first U.S. store, a 35,000 square-foot store at 640 Fifth Avenue, and the opening of stores in Palisades Mall, West Nyack, N.Y., and Garden Plaza in Paramus, New Jersey later this spring.”
Other Investments of Stefan Persson
Stefan Persson is old money. His father founded H&M Company nearly 74 years ago. He owns almost 50%, and his sister owns 5% of the empire. The biggest challenge of the dynasty is to maintain wealth. Real Estate investments are the best instruments for parking wealth. He owns a Ramsbury property that offers real estate and leasing services. He manages an extensive property portfolio in Europe through the company, especially in London, Stockholm, and Paris. In 2009, he bought a whole village in the U.K. for 25 million pounds. The land is 19,000 acres, and he named it Ramsbury Estates. It includes prime hunting, shooting, and fishing territories. In 2016 through Ramsbury Property, he bought Devinim Flight Ship Stores in London for 400 million pounds. The purchase has an estimated annual return of 2.75%, which is one of the most expensive purchases in the capital since 2008. In 2009, Stefan Persson stepped down as the CEO of H&M in favor of his son. He started the H&M foundation; an NGO established to improve positive change and improve living standards by providing education and empowering women. According to Hmfoundation, the foundation has donated approximately $ 200 million since 2013.
Stefan Persson owns substantial stakes in several other companies other than H&M. These companies include Hexagon, Ericson, Nordea, and Poolia. Stefan has risen to be one of the wealthiest people in Sweden. His strategy includes using a fast-fashion model to move large volumes from designer stores within the shortest time possible. In this way, Stefan has achieved a net worth of $25 billion.