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H&M set for Australian roll out as its first local store launches tomorrow

Melinda Oliver /

Swedish fashion giant H&M has declared it will open more Australian locations as it prepares for its first store launch in Melbourne tomorrow.

The company, which will open the doors to its 5000m2 flagship at Melbourne’s heritage-listed GPO building at 10am on Saturday, expects to roll out more sites this year.

H&M global chief executive Karl-Johan Persson said the retail powerhouse expects to open around six flagship stores in Australia over the next 12 months, followed by more next year, the Australian Financial Review reports.

The business is already eyeing locations in Sydney, Perth, Adelaide and Brisbane, The Age reports.

Persson also said H&M would offer the same product that it does in international markets and at similar prices. It will keep price equality by absorbing the higher costs for Australian rent and labour, the AFR reported.

It will also build on its Australian ecommerce site, which it launched in February this year, with a range of products exclusively available in Australia.

Last night it held a preview launch, which The Age described as “one heck of an opening party”. Australian Retailers Association executive director Russell Zimmerman attended the launch event and says he was “blown away” by the store and the product offer.

“Last night’s launch event was truly impressive,” he says. “The new H&M store has something for every Australian consumer and represents visual merchandising at its finest.”

Zimmerman told SmartCompany that the store is bringing a “lot of excitement within the retail industry”. He says it makes good use of the three levels of the GPO Building and was among the best examples of a H&M store he has seen internationally. 

“It is fair to say it is extremely well laid out in terms of a clearly defined store.

“This is a retailer that really knows what it is doing. There was a huge depth of range in terms of the stock and it is very much a flagship for Australia.”

He was not perturbed by the competition to local retailers, but rather embraced it. 

“Having another well-known international retailer is always beneficial to competition, and the ARA is confident that local retailers are more than capable of stepping up to the mark to compete with any newcomers to the industry.

“The fact that more and more international retailers are choosing to set up shop in Australia is a positive sign that the Australian retail industry may finally be on the road to recovery.”

Zimmerman says the H&M store, coupled with the adjacent new Emporium centre that is opening in a couple of months, is making the Melbourne CBD an impressive retail hub for international and interstate visitors.

The new H&M store has a series of shop-within-shop-style areas, with menswear, womenswear, childrenswear, streetwear, lingerie and accessories among the product categories.

H&M was founded in 1947 and has over 3000 stores in 53 countries. It is still partly owned by the family of the original founder.

H&M is one of many international retailers putting their stamp on Australia. Scandinavian label COS recently announced it would launch its first Australian store in Melbourne, while Japanese retailer Uniqlo is also set to open this year.

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