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How H&M is trying to be green

The Swedish retailer is planning a debut green bond sale, the latest effort by a fast fashion company to improve the sustainability of its business

Fast fashion companies, including H&M, are looking to make their production more sustainable and protect their brands after criticism in recent years(AFP)

By Bloomberg

LAST PUBLISHED 17.10.2023  |  11:00 AM IST

Swedish retailer Hennes & Mauritz AB is planning a debut green bond sale, the latest effort by a fast fashion company to improve the sustainability of its business.

The company is holding investor calls, with an expected €500 million ($843 million) eight-year green offering set to follow, according to a person familiar with the matter. H&M already has debt tied to sustainability targets such as emissions cuts and recycling.

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The proceeds from the new bond offering will be used to finance and refinance projects including using recycled materials, renewable energy and sustainable water use.

Also read: Shein and Forever 21 are now fast-fashion friends

Fast fashion companies are looking to make their production more sustainable and protect their brands after criticism in recent years. Their business model, churning out new styles, has resulted in increased carbon emissions and generated enormous clothing waste.

H&M identified a potential negative impact to its business should consumers increasingly prefer “products and services with low climate impacts from trusted companies that are seen as leaders in sustainability" in its 2021 report. Other clothing brands including Burberry and Mango have tied their borrowing to green commitments. 

Earlier this year, H&M faced accusations that clothes from its garment collecting program are being dumped in Africa, causing major environmental problems, something that Chief Executive Officer Helena Helmersson denied.

Resale efforts have emerged as an initiative for firms to lower their carbon and water footprint—or at least convince green-conscious shoppers that they’re trying. Yet so far fashion brands have struggled to make second-hand selling account for more than a tiny fraction of profits.

In its earnings last month, H&M’s revenue growth unexpectedly ground to a halt as shoppers turned away from the Swedish retailer, which has been raising prices while rivals such as Shein offer bottom-dollar discounts.

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The green bond’s bookrunners are BNP Paribas SA, ING Groep SA, JPMorgan Chase & Co., SEB AB and UniCredit SpA. 

Also read: EU wants fast fashion brands to clean up their act quickly