NEW YORK (Reuters) -H&M will pay $36 million to settle accusations that the fashion retailer illegally kept millions of dollars in gift cards that customers never used, New York Attorney General Letitia James said on Thursday. The Swedish company, whose full name is H&M Hennes & Mauritz AB, will pay $28.26 million to the state and $7.74 million to a whistleblower, William French. James said H&M had since 2008 unlawfully kept at least $18.4 million in unused gift card balances in its own bank accounts, instead of transferring them to the state's Abandoned Property Fund.
H&M plans to shut 240 stores this year and open 95 new spaces as the fashion retailer targets new markets like South America.
H&M reported a 23% rise in first quarter sales even as it reduced the level of markdowns on its garments.