H&M stands for Hennes & Mauritz, but it took several years until the final name evolved. The company was founded by Erling Pedersson, who opened his first fashion retail store in 1947 in Västerås, Sweden. At that time, it was called Hennes, which is the Swedish word for "hers". As the name suggests, this retail format specialized in women’s fashion. After acquiring the hunting apparel and equipment retailer Mauritz Wildforss, the company name was changed to Hennes & Mauritz and men’s fashion was included in the product range.
In 2017, the group’s total sales amounted to almost 28 billion U.S. dollars, of which roughly 1.2 billion U.S. dollars were generated in Sweden. This is the highest sales value achieved by the group in the Nordic region. The highest revenue generated in a single country amounted to 4.4 billion U.S. dollars in Germany, ahead of the United States, where the H&M Group gained a total of 3.3 billion U.S. dollars.
The H&M Group is continuously growing and counted a total of 4,739 stores worldwide in 2017. The three countries with the highest number of stores are United States, Germany and China. China is becoming a more and more important market for the H&M brands, which can be seen by the rapidly rising store number between 2010 and 2017. Only approximately 4.5 percent of the company's stores are found in its home country, Sweden.
The brand with the most physical stores is H&M. It is present on 69 markets, while its online business is established in more than 43 countries. COS stores reach 37 markets; Monki has conquered 14 markets with brick and mortar stores, and 19 markets its online shops.