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H&M Kick-starts Growth in Texas

Fall openings of the Swedish fast-fashion chain are slated for Dallas and surrounding suburbs.

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DALLAS — Hennes & Mauritz begins its Texas charge at noon Thursday with the opening of the state’s first full-concept store at NorthPark Center here.

Fall openings of the Swedish fast-fashion chain are slated to follow in the Dallas suburbs at The Shops at Willow Bend in Plano and Town East Mall in Mesquite, according to Daniel Kulle, president of H&M North America. The fast-fashion retailer is also scouting for sites in Austin, Houston and San Antonio, he said.

“Texas is one of the most exciting markets in the U.S., and after 11 years in the U.S., we are excited to enter the market,” Kulle said, predicting that, “It will be fabulous for us.”

The company’s expansion strategy calls for at least 25 new units in the U.S. this year, he revealed, citing additional openings this fall in downtown Denver, Fashion Place Mall in Salt Lake City and downtown Kansas City, Mo. — all new markets for the retailer. Kulle declined to say how many stores he envisions in Texas, noting the company is willing to wait for the best locations.

Last year, H&M opened 20 stores in the U.S., which is one of the retailer’s biggest growth markets worldwide, according to communications manager Nicole Christie. The company plans to open its first Miami store next year.

NorthPark will be H&M’s 220th unit in the U.S. amid 2,306 stores worldwide. The company does not release sales figures but does disclose percentage changes in monthly volume.

Asked about H&M’s comparable-store sales declines in March, June and July, Kulle said, “We don’t see that affecting the U.S. at the moment. We have a good tailwind and are doing good business and the customer is liking what we are doing. It is a tough economy so you have to work harder to convince the customer and improve your business model. We are very optimistic in America.”

The 20,000-square-foot unit at NorthPark will stock the company’s highest fashion “big city” pieces within the same assortment it features worldwide, adjusted slightly for climate and local market demands.

The chain’s most popular price point is $4.95 tops, Kulle said. It’s also had strong response to its first sustainable clothing collection introduced last spring, which was made of organic cotton and recycled polyester and will continue this fall.

The company has been working with organic cotton in various products since 2007, consuming 15,000 tons of it last year. Its goal is to have all of its cotton come from sustainable sources by 2020.

“We are one of the largest buyers in the world of organic cotton,” Kulle said. “You see the green label of organic cotton on many items.”

With women’s on the first floor and men’s and kids upstairs, the two-level space at NorthPark Center sits in an area that also features Forever 21, Abercrombie & Fitch and other youth-oriented retailers. It will look like other H&M flagships with the latest tweaks to signage, mannequins and lighting, said Kulle, who plans to attend a private preview party this evening.

Sales exceeded expectations at H&M’s small pop-up at NorthPark that was open from December to April and carried an edited assortment that rotated every two weeks, Christie noted.

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