Sweden’s H&M to open 50 new stores in India

Swedish fashion retail giant H&M aims to open 50 stores in India to tap the South Asian nation's growing middle-class market, an Indian government statement said Monday.

Sweden's H&M to open 50 new stores in India

It is the second Swedish chain to seek entry into India after the government last year relaxed legislation to allow foreign retailers to set up shop in India and sell directly to Indian consumers to boost investment from abroad.

H&M, one of the world’s leading clothing retailers by sales, has applied to make a 100-million-euro ($131-million) investment and “will establish 50 stores”, the Indian government said in a press release.

But Stockholm-based H&M added in a statement that there “are no concrete plans” yet for when it would open its first stores in India.

Indian Commerce Minister Anand Sharma said in New Delhi he welcomed the application by H&M.

“After the liberalisation of FDI (foreign direct investment) policy in single brand retail, there has been a considerable interest shown by all global retail majors,” Sharma said.

“The government remains committed to a liberal economic reforms agenda,” he added, saying foreign investment was “a source of technology, finance and means of creating gainful employment”.

In February, H&M which like many other European retailers is seeking to diversify from the crisis-hit euro zone, said it aimed to start “with a few stores” in India and would “expand heavily” if all went well.

The application by H&M comes as Ikea awaits final government clearance to enter India and invest $1.9 billion in coming years. It hopes to open 25 of its trademark blue-and-yellow stores in India as part of an emerging markets push.

India’s cabinet is expected to meet Wednesday to make a final decision on Ikea’s application.

Ikea’s entry into India is being closely watched by rivals as a test case for how a large foreign corporation navigates India’s byzantine rules and red tape.

US supermarket chain Walmart is among other retailers that have also announced plans to open stores in India. But the firm is being probed by Indian authorities over whether it broke the law through its US lobbying activities on matters the retailer said involved “enhanced market access for investment in India”.

AFP/The Local/og

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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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