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H&M

Swedfund joins H&M in Ethiopia expansion

As H&M expands into Ethiopia, Sweden's state venture capital unit Swedfund has announced that it will back the clothing giant, in a move hoped to create more jobs for local women.

The partnership, which is set to kick off in autumn this year, will see Swedfund injecting 60 million kronor ($8.6 million) in investments to H&M suppliers, reported the Dagens Industri newspaper. 
 
The goal is to create a domestic textile industry that's both sustainable and responsible, Swedfund announced in a statement.
 
"Through this unique partnership with H&M, our goal is to contribute to developing the textile industry in Ethiopia, thus creating jobs with good working conditions that lift people out of poverty, especially women," said Anna Ryott, CEO at Swedfund. 
 
H&M's CEO Karl-Johan Persson said the move was an opportunity to get involved early in Ethiopia's growing textile industry. 
 
"We have for many years worked in existing manufacturing countries to improve working conditions and environment. This experience is included with the establishment of cooperation with Ethiopian suppliers," he added.
 
The Swedish clothing giant has been on the scene in Ethiopia all year, with long-term plans to attract Africa's middle class.
 
H&M has a good track record when it comes to sustainability and working conditions.
 
In May last year it signed up to a building safety agreement in the wake of the factory collapse that killed more than 1,000 garment workers in Bangladesh. In November it announced that it was scrapping angora products after a Chinese video surfaced showing workers plucking hair from rabbits while they were still alive.

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H&M

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.  

READ ALSO: H&M profit down sharply despite rise in online sales

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