Fashion giant H&M has finally confirmed it will open its inaugural Australian store in Melbourne, in a high-profile location in the iconic GPO building.
The announcement confirms the company’s long-awaited search for a suitable property, having spent months scouting potential locations. But it also serves to show international appetite for Australian retail space is still going strong.
“A lot of international retailers still view Australia as somewhat of a beacon on the hill,” Simon Fonteyn, the managing director of Leasing Information Services, told SmartCompany this morning.
ISPT, the operator of the GPO building, announced yesterday H&M’s flagship store would open with 5000m2 of space in the heritage-listed building.
In a statement, ISPT retail asset manager Sam Curry said the store would help boost the Melbourne CBD precinct.
“We are delighted to have this opportunity to introduce such a famous and highly anticipated international fashion retailer to the Australian market,” Curry said.
The company is the world’s largest clothing group, and is still partly owned by the family of the original founder. The company has 2900 stores in 51 countries, and is still on an epic expansion plan – targeting 10-15% per year.
H&M, which was founded in 1947, follows the model of several of its fashion counterparts by working closely with designers and using a rapid shipping model – much like its counterpart, Zara and Topshop.
The H&M store will sit just metres from where the inaugural Australian Zara store opened in 2011.
The importation of international fashion to Australia has been a hot topic over the past few years, with the local industry complaining that while new entrants create foot traffic and draw attention, they also push up prices.
While the market has been quiet for some time regarding any new entries, Fonteyn says that environment shouldn’t last too long – plenty of retailers still view Australia as an opportunity.
“A lot of the international retailers use Zara as a benchmark for what’s possible, and now you have companies like TopShop as well.”
“Some of these stores are even quasi-anchor stores. There is a demand for these types of internationals within Australian centres.”