MILAN — Eleven years after the first Italian H&M store opened in Piazza San Babila here, the Swedish retailer has unveiled a new, four-story flagship overlooking the city’s gothic Duomo cathedral.
The 25,670-square foot store, H&M’s 125th in Italy, carries a full range of men’s, women’s, teen and children’s wear. Bright and spacious, with marble floors and touches of greenery, the new Milanese flagship is the city’s sixth H&M store, and it has a staff of 200.
In spite of Italy’s prolonged economic malaise, H&M Italia country manager Dan Nordstrom expressed confidence in the potential for greater expansion across the peninsula, noting that, this year, H&M turnover in Italy rose 27 percent in the nine months ending Aug. 31, compared with the 15 percent increase the group saw overall. Over a thousand of H&M’s 3,900 employees in Italy joined the company in 2014, and the firm opened 11 new Italian stores, in cities such as Modena, Treviso and Reggio Emilia, in the year.
Nordstrom also pointed to a steady increase in the number of Italians shopping online, as well as an uptick in consumer interest in “conscious” fashion — a concept H&M has been eagerly promoting. Shoppers in Italy are consistently among the top contributors of used clothing to H&M’s garment collection service, which runs in all 55 countries where the retailer is present, Nordstrom said.
“I think the awareness is definitely starting in Italy about sustainability and maybe making another choice, not only for clothes, also for food,” he said, noting that while Scandinavia and Germany are ahead of the curve, “Italy is definitely on the map” when it comes to eco-friendly consumption.
Los Angeles-based indie rock band Saint Motel played at an inauguration cocktail party Wednesday night, as guests perused the racks and sipped Champagne.