By  on January 26, 2007

PARIS — Hennes & Mauritz is on a roll — and it wants to keep it that way.

The Swedish fast-fashion retailer, which reported a 17 percent increase in net profits in 2006, said Thursday that it would push into the home textile market via its H&M stores. Meanwhile, the company revealed the name of its new, more expensive chain: Collection of Style, or COS. The first COS store will open in March on London's Regent Street.

The new brand will comprise women's and men's collections. H&M said about 10 stores were scheduled to bow during the year in the U.K., Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium. There are no plans to open COS stores in the U.S. at this point, a spokeswoman said.

"COS will be modern, stylish and chic," said Nils Vinge, the retailer's head of investor relations, in a conference call. "The business concept is fashion and quality at the best price."

Vinge explained COS would be grown conservatively in the first year, and expansion would be contingent on the success of the debut. He said store sizes would be about 5,000 square feet.

"We'll look at how the first 10 stores are performing [before deciding how many more to add]," said Vinge. "It's hard to say at this point how aggressive the rollout will be."

When asked if COS would collaborate with designers, as H&M has done with Stella McCartney and Karl Lagerfeld, Vinge said, "We're not ruling anything out."

He suggested the assortment would be geared to European customers with more fast-fashion items than in H&M's existing stores.

H&M said it would launch H&M Home, a home textiles brand, starting with Internet and catalogue sales this fall in several key European markets. The company said H&M Home stand-alone stores could follow.

Other growth avenues for H&M this year include an extended women's shoe assortment, which is expected to be launched in 200 H&M stores this spring, and links with celebrities and designers.

Besides its successful collaborations with top designers, including the fall collection by Viktor & Rolf, which Vinge said "exceeded expectations," H&M is preparing to introduce a second collaboration with pop singer Madonna.

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