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H&M proposes to add digital and data privacy expertise to board

Fashion retailer H&M's nomination committee has recommended that Stina Honkamaa Bergfors and Erica Wiking Hager be elected as new members of its board of directors – a move that would bring significant digital expertise to the organisation's top table.

Honkamaa Bergfors is CEO and co-founder of the digital media company United Screens and former country director for Google in Sweden, as well being a member of Ikea's global board of directors.

Meanwhile, Wiking Hager has more than 15 years' experience of qualified business law work in an international context, in areas such as commercial contracts, international expansion and data privacy. She has been a partner at the law firm Mannheimer Swartling since 2009.

The committee has also proposed that Stefan Persson, chairman of H&M's nomination committee and of H&M's board of directors, is re-elected to his position.

Commenting on the potential new board appointments, Persson said: "From her various leading positions in companies such as Google and Ikea, Stina Honkamaa Bergfors has gathered solid and valuable experience within media, digitalisation and entrepreneurship.

"As a lawyer, in addition specialising in sustainability and risk management Erica Wiking Hager has also distinguished herself as a much appreciated advisor to companies with big international operations in areas such as eCommerce, digital services and data privacy."

Last week saw H&M announce its full-year results, which showed that sales in the 12 months to the end of November 2015 were SEK 210 billion, with profit after tax rising to SEK 20.9 billion.

Included within the results statement was a commitment from the retailer to growing its number of stores by 10-15% per year, with plans in place for 2016 to open 425 new stores net and open in three new markets: New Zealand, Cyprus and Puerto Rico. This is underlined by "substantial long-term investments in order to grasp the opportunities coming from the increased digitalisation", according to Persson.

To that end H&M is looking to provide customers with dedicated eCommerce platforms in a further nine existing H&M markets, namely Ireland, Japan, Greece, Croatia, Slovenia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Luxembourg.

Persson remarked: "We are convinced that Stina and Erica, with their skills and experience, will make valuable contributions to H&M's future board work."

Final decisions relating to the boardroom proposals will be addressed at the H&M annual general meeting on 3 May 2016.