H & M Hennes & Mauritz AB (Swedish pronunciation: [ˈhoː.ˈɛm; ˈhɛnːˈɛs ɔ ˈma.ʊrɪts]; H&M) is a Swedish multinational clothing-retail company, known for its fast-fashion clothing for men, women, teenagers and children. H&M and its associated brands operate in 62 countries with over 4,000 stores and, as of 2015, employ around 132,000 people. It is the second largest global clothing retailer, just behind Spain-based Inditex (parent company of Zara). The company has a significant online presence, with online shopping available in 32 countries, COS in 19 countries, Monki and Weekday in 18 countries each, & Other Stories in 13 countries, and Cheap Monday in 5 countries.[
The company was founded by Erling Persson in 1947, when he opened his first shop in Västerås, Sweden. The shop, called Hennes (Swedish for “hers”), exclusively sold women’s clothing. In 1968, Persson acquired the hunting apparel retailer Mauritz Widforss, which led to the inclusion of a menswear collection in the product range and the name change to Hennes & Mauritz.
The company was listed on the Stockholm Stock Exchange in 1974. Shortly after, in 1976, the first store outside of Scandinavia opened in London. H&M continued to expand in Europe, and began to retail online in 1998, when it was able to buy the domain hm.com from a company called A1 in a non-published domain transaction. The two-letter domain was registered in the early 1990s, but data on the first registration is lost. The first US store opened in 2000 on Fifth Avenue, New York.
In 2008, the company announced in a press release that it would begin selling home furnishings. Initially distributed through the company’s online catalogue, there are now H&M Home stores located internationally.
Following expansion in Asia and the Middle East and the launch of concept stores including COS, Weekday, Monki, and Cheap Monday, in 2009 and 2010, branding consultancy Interbrand ranked the company as the twenty-first most-valuable global brand, making it the highest-ranked retailer in the survey. Its worth was estimated at $12–16 billion.