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H&M names its first female CEO

H&M storefront

An unexpected board reshuffle has remade the deck at Hennes & Mauritz.

Karl-Johan Persson, who has led the fast-fashion company founded by his grandfather for some 10 years, has stepped down as CEO and taken on the role of chairman. Replacing him as chief executive is Helena Helmersson, who started at H&M in 1997 as an economist in the company’s buying department before moving into other roles, including a five-year stint as sustainability manager. For the past year, Helmersson has served as COO. The changes were effective Jan. 30. 

“I feel confident in handing over the CEO role to Helena, who is an experienced and great leader who embodies our values,” said Persson.

As chairman, Persson succeeds his father, Stefan Persson, who is relinquishing the role after more than 20 years.

“It is a natural change, after 20 years as chairman, to hand over to Karl-Johan, who has been CEO for more than 10 years,” said Stefan Persson. “I will continue to be a committed owner, just as today, but from a different position.”

In other moves, CFO Jyrki Tervonen has been named CEO of Ramsbury Invest, the Persson family’s private company that acts as the formal parent company of H&M, effective July 1. Replacing him at H&M will be Adam Karlsson.

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