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Subject: Erling Persson, Founded Clothing Chain

died October 28
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Date Posted: November 03, 2002 2:11:13 EDT

Erling Persson, the founder of the fashion retailer Hennes & Mauritz, popular worldwide for its concept of "disposable chic," died on Monday at his home in Stockholm. He was 85.

H&M has more than 800 stores in 14 countries and almost 34,000 employees.

In 2000, H&M opened its first United States outlet on Fifth Avenue in New York, attracting thousands of shoppers eager to buy the inexpensive chic clothes. The company now has seven stores in the United States.

Mr. Persson was born in the small town of Borlange in central Sweden but later moved to Stockholm, the capital, where he started work as a salesman.

A visit to the United States after World War II left him deeply impressed with the high-volume stores he saw during his travels, and he decided to open his own upon his return to Sweden in 1947.

He opened his first store, called Hennes, meaning "hers" in Swedish, in Vasteras, 60 miles west of Stockholm.

The chain expanded steadily in the 1950's and 1960's, becoming Hennes & Mauritz in 1968 after taking over a hunting and outdoors gear store; the new company scrapped everything but a stock of men's wear that came with the deal.

Mr. Persson retired in 1982, turning the reins over to his son, Stefan, now 56. Stefan Persson was chief executive from 1982 to 1988.

In addition to his son, Mr. Persson is survived by a daughter, Lottie Tham.

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