Erling Persson and his Fashion Empire

One of the successful clothing retailers was born in Borlange, Sweden on January 21 in the year 1917. His name was Erling Persson, the founder of clothing empire H & M (Hennes & Mauritz).

Erling Persson
Erling Persson (Credit:

Erling Persson was the son of a farming couple and he grew up in a rural town located 200 northwest of Stockholm, the capital city. With little formal education, he moved to Stockholm and found work as a salesman. He visited the United States after World War II and got impressed with the large assortment of goods especially clothing that were for sale.

Back to Sweden in 1947, he opened his own women’s clothing retail house in Vasteras, 60 miles from Stockholm. He called it Hennes, meaning ‘hers’ in Swedish, and designed the logo himself. The business grew and later, he put up branches in Stockholm. To generate more business, he put up full-page color ads in newspapers and magazines, one of the pioneers to do so.

In 1968, Erling Persson acquired Mauritz, a hunting gear and clothing store and renamed his company Hennes and Mauritz. The hunting equipment and all other items unrelated to clothing were discontinued and the company was focused on women’s and men’s clothing only. Later, it was changed its name to just H & M. It also began opening branches outside Sweden, first Norway, followed by Denmark, UK, Switzerland, and other countries. In 1974, the company debuted on the Stockholm Stock Market.

The US branch was opened in 2000. Customers reportedly flocked to the store in New York because it offered inexpensive but chic clothes. Seven more American branches were opened in the next two years.



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