Focus on fast fashion at the right price and at the right location has helped Swedish fashion retailer Hennes & Mauritz (H&M) record strong growth in India. To further fuel growth, the company plans to add 30 new stores in the next 30 months (at an average of one store a month), said Janne Einola, chief executive officer (CEO) and country manager, H&M India , on the sidelines of the Retail Leadership Summit. Excerpts from an interview with Jharna Mazumdar:
H&M entered India two-and-half-years ago and has on average added a store a month. Can you keep up this pace of expansion?
There is a lot of opportunity in this country and we intend to continue our expansion plan at a similar pace. However, a lot depends on the real estate, like finding the right location and also, how fast the owners are able to deliver the property. We continue to aim to open 30 stores in the next 30 months.
Is there a fear of cannibalisation with you looking to open so many stores?
India is a vast country, and to travel from one place to another, it takes a lot of time. As there is a lot of opportunity beyond Tier I cities too, we don’t think it is an issue as of yet. As of now, we have 75% of our stores in Tier I and the remaining in Tier II cities. Tier III markets are also changing fast and people are getting more fashion conscious. So, there is an opportunity there.
H&M sales nearly doubled to `955 crore in 2017. Do you expect to report similar growth in the coming year?
We have been doing well in the country due to our focus on fast fashion, at right prices, at right locations. It is global fashion that we are offering at a great price. We will continue to add more stores and expect to report strong sales in the coming year as well. Moreover, last year, GST got implemented and initially we did have some glitches in implementing it, but then things got sorted in a short span of time. This year sales should continue to remain strong.
Are you ready to launch your online store this year, as announced earlier? Will it allow customers to shop online and then exchange products in your stores?
We should be ready to launch it by the second half of this year. Eventually, yes, customers should be able to change products bought online in our stores. But that will take some time after we launch our own app. Globally, 12% of H&M’s sales come from the online channel.