Aug 12, 2011
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H&M says to double number of Japan stores over next year

Aug 12, 2011

August 12 - Swedish budget fashion chain Hennes & Mauritz said it plans to more than double the number of its stores in Japan over the next year as it looks to tap strong demand from the country's fashion-conscious consumers.

H&M's "Two Sides to a Story" campaign

The world's No. 2 clothing retailer after Zara owner Inditex opened its first Japanese store in 2008, and currently operates 12 outlets in the country, mostly in the Tokyo area.

H&M said it plans to bring that number to 30 by the end of 2012, and will open stores in major cities such as Osaka and Fukuoka and set up more locations in western Japan.

"Japan is definitely an important market and we still see potential for growth here," said Mie Anton, an H&M spokeswoman in Tokyo.

"Japanese customers are very interested in fashion, so there is high consumption in Japan," she said.

Across Asia, global "fast fashion" brands are setting up shops, targeting red-hot demand in the region for stylish yet relatively inexpensive clothing as U.S. and European shoppers cut discretionary spending.

In Japan, Zara has a sizable presence with 67 outlets. Forever 21 and Abercrombie & Fitch Co have also opened stores.

H&M, which also competes with Fast Retailing's Uniqlo and Gap Inc to attract price-conscious shoppers, has been aggressively expanding in China, the United States and Europe as well.

(Reporting by Natalia Konstantinovskaya; Editing by Chris Gallagher)

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