H&M opens first Japanese outlet

Swedish high-street clothing giant Hennes and Mauritz (H&M) opened its first store in Japan on Saturday. H&M's Tokyo store signals the firm's entry into one of world's most competitive casual fashion markets.

H&M’s store is located in the Ginza shopping district of Tokyo and the opening attracted more than 3,000 people, mostly women in their 20s and 30s, ahead of a

ribbon-cutting ceremony on Saturday.

Japan thereby becomes the 30th country in which H&M has retail outlets bringing its total to 1,600 shops and 800 production bases worldwide.

Rolf Eriksen, chief executive of the Stockholm-based company, recently told Japanese media that he plans to expand outlets across the country.

H&M has already decided to open two more stores in the capital’s leading fashion districts of Harajuku and Shibuya.

With the debut in Japan of H&M, renowned for its low price but fashionable clothing, competition in the affordable Japanese fashion industry is expected to be further intensified, observers say.

Rivals Gap Inc. and Zara of the Inditex Group have already entered into the Japanese market, where local clothing giant Uniqlo is the market leader.


H&M competitor to sponsor Sweden’s Olympic team

Six months after establishing itself in Stockholm, Japanese clothing brand Uniqlo has announced it will sponsor Sweden’s athletes at the 2020 Olympics.

H&M competitor to sponsor Sweden's Olympic team
Anna Hasselborg of Sweden's curling team tries out new kit supplied for the country's athletes by Uniqlo. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

The clothing chain, one of the world’s fastest-growing retail companies, is also set to open more stores in the Scandinavian country.

“Swedes are so sophisticated and warm-hearted,” Uniqlo Europe CEO Taku Morikawa said, stressing how welcome his company has been made to feel.

Morikawa was in Sweden to present the partnership between Uniqlo and the Swedish Olympic Committee at an event at Uniqlo’s store on Hamngatan in Stockholm.

Sweden’s athletes wore teamwear supplied by H&M at the last two Olympic Games.

The Stockholm store, Uniqlo’s first in the Nordic region, opened its doors in August 2018. An expansion is now planned on the Swedish market, although Morikawa declined to reveal where.

“We definitely have plans to open more stores here,” he said.

A store will also open in Danish capital Copenhagen in the coming spring as Uniqlo’s holding company Fast Retailing continues its global expansion.

Sales figures in Sweden’s clothing retail sector have seen a downward trend in recent years, with an exception in 2015.

H&M is usually cited as one of Uniqlo’s main competitors.

The impact of a new player on an already-competitive market is difficult to predict, according to the Swedish Trade Federation (Svensk Handel).

“Locally, competition is sharpened, but competition is already fierce. I would be inclined to say that this type of partly new concept store can, instead, help to revitalise the physical retail sector for clothing,” the association’s head economist Johan Davidson said.  

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