Retail, Innovation and Manufacturing reporter for the NZ Herald

Fashion chain H&M's new store won't be the last

The wait is over for fans of fashion retailer H&M as the brands first New Zealand store opens its doors to the public today.

The brand, which is known for its fashion at affordable pricing, announced its first store location at Sylvia Park last year, prompting excitement from Kiwi fans.

Daniel Lattemann, the chain's country sales manager for New Zealand said the timing was right to bring the brand to the New Zealand market.

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"We think the New Zealand market has been waiting for this for a while and that's the feedback we get from the customer," Lattemann said.

"H&M has been looking at New Zealand for a long time but for us it's very important to find the best location and that takes a bit of time.

I think Kiwis are very fashion forward and there is the need for high fashion."

The 2,300 square metre store will span two floors and house a selection of the latest styles as well as H&M classics.

Sylvia Park is bracing itself for the massive crowds with extra public transport and extended opening hours. The store will officially open at 10am today with a ribbon cutting ceremony and almost 200 staff members working on the day.

Lattemann said customers could expect the same range and price as its other Northern Hemisphere stores with the exception of homeware and beauty.

H&M has already confirmed its second store opening will be at Commercial Bay in Auckland, which will be bigger than the Sylvia Park outlet and will also house the brands homeware collection.

It is expected H&M will expand across New Zealand once it has its Auckland store settled in. Once the company moves into a new market it typically expands rapidly - Australia has expanded to around 16 stores in just three years.

"Commercial Bay in 2018 is the next store confirmed but we are always looking for more locations," Lattemann said. "We don't have one in the South Island yet but I'm sure we will eventually."

The multinational retailer is the second largest clothing retailer in the world behind Spanish retailer Zara, and has more than 3500 stores in 57 countries.

Zara is opening in Sylvia Park next week but Lattemann said he wasn't worried about the competition.

"What we see in other markets where we're operating, having more competition really helps so it's a win-win situation," he said.

"The customer can compare prices and the fashion level and in the end it helps everyone to have more retailers because there's more traffic."

Overall foot traffic increased between 15 to 20 per cent following the mall arrival of a major retailer such as H&M, Lattemann said.

H&M's opening follows the arrival of Topshop in Auckland in March last year, as well as a number of other retailers including Tiffany confirming expansion into New Zealand.

The company was keeping quiet on its opening day plans saying it would be a surprise, but Lattemann said he was expecting the day would be hectic but fun for its kiwi fans.

- NZ Herald

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