H&M Hennes Mauritz

PARIS — With an eye to international expansion, Hennes & Mauritz has forged a franchise deal with Hola Moda to enter Central America, and plans to open its first store in Panama by the end of the year, the Swedish fast-fashion retailer said Friday.

Hola Moda is a privately owned company founded by Phoenix Group and Dorben Group, which operate international fashion brands in over a dozen counties across the region, according to the statement.

Hola Moda president Mehdi Beneddine said the partnership would focus on promoting messages of sustainability.

H&M has been undergoing deep restructuring efforts in an effort to modernize its operations and improve its online offer, as well as sprucing up its store formats. Following a long spell of flag-planting expansion for the fast fashion industry, the industry’s emphasis more recently has been on modernizing operations.

Rival Inditex, which owns Zara, has been setting the pace for the industry with state-of-the art operations allowing for same-day delivery in urban centers, and aggressively expanding abroad and moving to offer Internet sales all over the world by this year.

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