The year ahead for H&M
Location, location, location is what it’s all about for the world’s top fast fashion brand.
Swedish fashion powerhouse, H&M, will open 375 new stores by the end of the 2014, before setting its sights on new markets, South Africa and Peru.
This year’s expansion follows an aggressive international rollout in 2013, opening stores in five new markets including Chile, Lithuania, Serbia, Estonia, and Indonesia via a franchise model.
In 2014, H&M debuted in the Philippines and also opened the first H&M Australia store at Melbourne’s GPO, with the first Sydney store to open next month at Macquarie Centre, North Ryde.
In another first for the brand, earlier this year H&M opened its first standalone menswear concept, H&M Man, which was toured by the 2014 Westfield World Retail Study Tour in Sweden.
H&M’s growth target is to increase its number of stores by 10 to 15 per cent per year, and it’s looking like the cheap, chic label is right on track.
In 2014-15 the bulk of the rollout has been earmarked for the US and China.
H&M also has aggressive global rollout plans for its online offering. It plans to launch e-commerce in up to 10 markets in 2015, following an expansion this year to France, China, Spain, and Italy, taking the total number of e-stores to 13.
Expansion is not just on the cards for the H&M chain though, with parent company, H&M Group, seeking to grow its other budding fashion lines around the globe as well.
The H&M Group includes women’s wear and accessories label, Cos (Collection of Style); denim brands Cheap Monday and Weekday; youth women’s label, Monki; and & Other Stories.
In total, the H&M Group has more than 3200 stores across 54 markets.
Cos will land on Australian shores next month, with a store at Melbourne CBD’s redeveloped Strand Arcade.
Cos first opened on Regent St, London in 2007 and has since rolled out 85 stores across 20 markets.
More than 20 new Cos stores are expected to rollout throughout 2014-15, including sites in new markets such as the US, South Korea, and Switzerland. It will also launch an online store in the US.
Location, location, location
When more than 3000 eager fashionistas waited for the doors to open at H&M’s 5000sqm flagship at Melbourne’s GPO earlier this year, it was a turnout only local retailers could dream of – yet it was not the first time for the Swedish giant.
H&M openings all over the world are just as impressive as their real estate portfolio. It took the brand almost four years to find the right site in Australia, before settling into one of Melbourne’s most iconic city buildings, and there’s a reason why – H&M does not compromise on location.
From London’s Regent St to Times Square in New York, H&M builds brand awareness through location. The group has three inhouse store planning teams at its Stockholm, New York, and Singapore headquarters.
H&M’s Melbourne store is one of the biggest in the world, occupying three levels and offering a full range of men’s, women’s, and children’s fashion, as well as a homewares line.
The GPO was also the first in the world to house all H&M brands under one roof including homewares.
At around 150sqm the H&M Home section is divided into room categories including kitchen, dining, and bathroom. It is also the first time H&M has launched an exclusive fashion collection for a new market.
According to David Sundstrom, H&M regional lease manager, US, UK, and Ireland, who spoke to the Westfield 2014 Study Tour in Sweden, there’s a specific framework undertaken when choosing the next location.
“We have stores in all categories. From small cities to big cities, high street locations to shopping malls, you name it. We are all over the place but we aim for the best location we can get,” Sundstrom said.
“Finding the right store can take months to years, depending on where we are and negotiations.
“We travel to try and have an understanding of what’s happening in each market. The expansion team are always discussing locations, and with that we try to have as much local knowledge as possible.
“Stores are really, really, important to us. We’re not just looking at expanding online business in the future.”
The fun of fashion
For H&M, fashion and quality at the right price is what it is all about.
“You can probably find someone that’s cheaper, you can probably find someone that has a higher quality, but if you have that mix of fashion and quality at the best price then that is best.
“That’s our recipe and it’s a proven recipe that has worked for 54 markets.”
H&M collections include women’s, men’s children’s, as well as denim ranges, women’s accessories, lingerie, and cosmetics. All of the brand’s fashion collections are conceived inhouse by a team of 160 designers and 100 pattern makers.
In Australia, H&M made its debut with an exclusive fashion collection including around 40 female pieces and 10 male pieces.
H&M is also renowned for designer collaborations, which has seen the brand team up with some of the biggest fashion names in the world.
“What do we want to offer the customer? We want the customers to feel energy when they come into our stores. We want it to be fun with fashion. We’re doing a lot of work to communicate this in stores but also online,” says Sundstrom.
“You go into a store in Shanghai or a store in Idaho, it’s the same collections. The designer collaborations are also something that are very, very important to us.
“We speak of the fun of fashion and we want that in our stores as well.”
H&M intends to expand its sports concept next year following its sponsorship of the Swedish team at the Sochi 2014 Winter Games.
Sustainability has also became an integral part of H&M’s operations, with the fast fashion label placing significant focus and long term targets on the sustainable fashion range, H&M Conscious.
“Conscious is something that’s very, very important to us.We have aggressive goals that by 2020 all materials should be sustainable, recycled, materials.”
To reserve a place on Westfield’s Asian Express Retail Study Tour next month taking in Shanghai, Hong Kong, Macau, and Singapore, contact Robyn Burgess, firstname.lastname@example.org.
To attend Westfield’s annual Breakfast Seminar Series in Adelaide, Perth, Brisbane, Melbourne, or Sydney, click here.
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