MANILA– Finally, the long wait is over. H&M officially announced that it will open its first retail store in the country on October 17 at the Fashion Hall of SM Megamall.
The rumor about the Swedish brand opening its store in the country has been circulating for years. The country will be the 55th market of the global clothing brand giant. It will occupy a three-level store in SM Megamall with an estimated size of 3,000 square meters.
The opening in October will also coincide with the launch of H&M’s Fall-Winter 2014 collection.
According to H&M chief executive and grandson of the founder Karl-Johan Persson, the company has been looking into expanding in the Philippines for several years already.
Karl-Johan Persson, the 39-year-old chief executive of H&M and grandson of the founder, said the company’s expansion team has been looking into the country for several years.
“We open 350-plus stores a year. It’s hard work to find good locations, good rent deals and good people,” said the 39-year-old executive. “We expand in a way where we can draw quality, if not, we wait. A new country is more work than just opening a new store in Sweden or any of our old markets. We can only handle a few markets a year. We have a business model that works globally, and we hope it also works in the Philippines.”
He also said that H&M has seen the anticipation and appreciation of the Filipinos about their brand based from the buzz in social media.
“We offer a diversity of styles at a good quality and a good price,” he said. “We think we can offer a lot to different people in the Philippines.”
H&M is coming to the country without a local partner, unlike majority of the fashion brands that entered the country.
“We could expand quicker if we team up and if we do franchises, but we prefer a long-term view,” Persson said. “It’s costing us a little bit more now but it’s what we believe in. We still have a good pace. It has never been a drive for us to be the biggest company in the world. We think about the cost of the offering and improve that all the time, to have great design, quality and sustainability, and good shopping experience. Those are what we pour our energy on.”
The second H&M store will be in SM Makati, while the third store will be in Robinsons Magnolia.
H&M started in 1947 by Persson’s grandfather, Erling Persson, in Vasteras, Sweden. The inspiration struck him after he saw stores in the United States that sell women’s clothes at low prizes. Persson, the founder, came from a family of butchers.
The store was first called Hennes or “hers” in Swedish. He expanded the business in 1960s after he was able to acquire a store that specializes in fishing gear called Mauritz Widforss. He then incorporated the name to become Hennes & Mauritz that eventually was shortened to H&M.
Every year, the brand growth is at 10-15 percent. In 2014 alone, H&M opened 375 stores. It currently employs 116,000 employees nationwide, and will add 100 for the first Philippine store.