NEW YORK — H&M has just signed a lease to open its largest store in the world, on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, WWD has learned.

This story first appeared in the August 23, 2012 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

The six-level, 57,000-square-foot site, at 589 Fifth Avenue on the southeast corner of 48th Street, is seen opening sometime next year. H&M is taking over the Chase bank space and office space above.

H&M entered the U.S. in 2000 by opening a store on Fifth Avenue and 51st Street, just three blocks from where the new store will be situated. Since then, H&M has been blitzing both Manhattan and the U.S. with openings. There are 10 Manhattan units and 247 across the U.S. H&M’s 11th Manhattan store, a 21,000-square-foot unit in The Shops at Columbus Circle, is seen opening by the end of this year, establishing 589 Fifth Avenue as the 12th store in Manhattan.

“H&M believes strongly in the New York City market,” said Daniel Kulle, the U.S. president for H&M. “This new H&M flagship location will stand out amongst our already impressive group of stores that cover the New York City landscape and will for sure be a destination on Fifth Avenue, a world famous and historic thoroughfare.”

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It is believed H&M is continuing to search for locations in Manhattan. Opening its largest store in the world just three blocks from another H&M store is consistent with the Swedish retailer’s real estate strategy. The fast-fashion retailer often locates stores within a few blocks of each other and does not feel they cannibalize each other. “We have many stores that are in close vicinity of each other. It’s not unusual. It increases foot traffic,” said a spokeswoman.

Unlike other H&M stores in New York, the upcoming Fifth Avenue flagship will sell all of the brand’s collections. That includes men’s and women’s sportswear and ready-to-wear, as well as lingerie, underwear, accessories, children’s wear, newborn apparel, special sizes, maternity apparel, cosmetics and the home collection.

Currently, H&M’s largest store in the world operates in The Forum Shops at Caesars in Las Vegas. That unit exceeds 50,000 square feet.

H&M’s recent performance has spurred expansion, which is proceeding at a rate of 10 to 15 percent globally and in the U.S. “The year started well and the positive trend continued in the second quarter,” said Karl-Johan Persson, chief executive officer of the Stockholm-based chain, in a recent financial report on the second quarter. He cited “strong sales” and a profit increase of 23 percent in the quarter.

“Our expansion plan remains intact,” Persson added. “We plan to open around 275 new stores during the full year. We continue to open new stores in all current markets and we will add five new markets during the year: Bulgaria, Mexico, Latvia, Malaysia and Thailand. In addition, online sales will be launched in the autumn in the U.S., the world’s largest online market.”

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