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PARIS — Hennes & Mauritz is continuing its drive into Asia.
The Swedish fast-fashion retailer on Wednesday said it would open its first store in South Korea in spring 2010. The move follows its foray into Japan last year and into China in 2007.
After the 28,000-square-foot store in Seoul’s Myungdong business district, H&M plans to secure additional locations in the Seoul area.
“We look forward to establishing in South Korea,” H&M chief executive officer Rolf Eriksen stated Wednesday. “We have positive experiences from our establishments in Japan, Hong Kong and China and see South Korea as a natural consecutive step. South Korea has 49 million inhabitants, of which 23 million are in the Seoul area, with a great interest in fashion and purchasing power.”
In China, H&M will open five stores this spring, including two in Beijing, two more in Shanghai and one on Hong Kong’s Canton Road. The company added six stores in China last year, bringing its countrywide count to 13, through which it generated sales of 881 million Swedish krona, or $137.5 million at average exchange, in 2008.
H&M’s first Beijing location will open on April 23 to coincide with the launch of its latest designer collaboration with Matthew Williamson.
It’s a strategy H&M has used before. After its Ginza flagship in September 2008, H&M timed its second Tokyo opening with last November’s launch of a special collection designed by Comme des Garçons creative director Rei Kawakubo, a collection it also sold at 10 Corso Como in Seoul. Sales in the two stores reached 198 million Swedish krona, or $27.2 million, in fourth-quarter 2008, beating expectations and making them among H&M’s most successful openings ever, the company said. Two more stores are planned for fall: one in Shinjuku and another in Shibuya.
Elsewhere, H&M is continuing its expansion in the Middle East, with its first store in Lebanon planned for this fall, followed by stores in Israel in 2010.
In total, H&M, which operated 1,741 stores at the end of January, plans to open 225 stores globally during 2009.