H&M has appointed a global leader to deal with diversity and inclusiveness.
This comes after the company sparked outrage with a catalogue photograph in which a little black boy wears a hoodie bearing the slogan “coolest monkey in the jungle”.
“H&M apologises sincerely for the controversial image of the hoodie,” it said in a statement on Tuesday.
“Our position is simple. We got things wrong and we are deeply sorry.”
The retailer said the incident was “entirely unintentional” but said it showed how “sensitive and mindful we need to be about different cultures and particularly about issues of race”.
“Our commitment to addressing diversity and inclusiveness is genuine, and therefore we have appointed a global leader in this area to drive our work forward. There will be more from us soon,” it said.
H&M would also reach out to gather ideas from staff and critics and said it was “open to constructive thoughts to help us create a better future”.
The Economic Freedom Fighters staged protests at H&M shops in Gauteng, the Western Cape, Limpopo, Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal at the weekend, prompting H&M to announce it would close all its shops in the country until further notice.
“We would also like to apologise sincerely to our employees, many of whom were placed in highly stressful situations in the wake of protest action,” the company said on Tuesday. “It has been a difficult and challenging week for H&M but we remain fully committed to our South African operation.”