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H&M To Open First Japanese Store for 2008

Godfrey Deeny
December 11th, 2006 @ 11:29 AM - Paris

H&M has signed a contract for its first store in Japan, breaking into the largest foreign market from which it is currently absent.

Though by far the market-leader in just-on-time fashion, H&M has still only opened stores in 24 countries worldwide, the result of its strict criteria of only leasing space in heavily-trafficked prime retail locations, and thus by logical extension real estate that is not always immediately available.

For its Japan debut, H&M said that its debut emporium "will be located in the best business location in one of Tokyo's prime shopping districts, Harajuku."

Known as the center of Japan's most extreme teenage trends and styles, Harajuku's local station is famed for its Sunday entertainment, when local kids engage in cosplay or "costume play," i.e. dressing up in crazy versions of punk musicians, historical figures and cartoon heroes.

"Japan is an exciting market for H&M with its fashion conscious consumers and great spending power. With a population of 128 million, of which almost 13 million are in Tokyo, we see great opportunities for expansion in this part of the world," H&M CEO Rolf Eriksen said in a release.

H&M's planned 16,200 square feet retail space is to be situated in a building currently under construction and expected to open in the autumn 2008. Hennes & Mauritz AB, to give H&M its full name, is also negotiating other contracts in Tokyo.

Established in Sweden in 1947, H&M is quoted on the Stockholm Stock Exchange, but is largely owned by the Persson family.

Today, H&M boats a chain of some 1,300 H&M stores in 24 countries, with 50,000 employees and 2005 consolidated sales of 71.886 billion Swedish krona, $10.49 billion.

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