PARIS – Hennes & Mauritz is continuing its expansion in the Middle East.

The Swedish fast-fashion group said it had completed an agreement to open stores in Israel, starting in 2010, with March Retail Ltd. H&M already operates franchise stores in Saudi Arabia, Oman, Bahrain, Dubai, Kuwait and Egypt.

“There has been great interest in H&M from the Israeli market for quite some time and we believe that our business concept will suit the Israeli market well,” stated Rolf Eriksen, H&M’s chief executive officer.

The Horesh family founded March Retail Ltd. exclusively to operate H&M stores in Israel. The family’s other business concerns in Israel include auto distribution for Toyota and Lexus.

H&M operates more than 1,700 stores around the world. Recently, the chain opened its first stores in Japan and China.