Final countdown to the global fashion brand’s opening begins
After seven years since H&M (Hennes & Mauritz Inc.) expanded in Asia via nearby Hong Kong and Shanghai, China, the renowned Swedish fashion retail company is finally opening its first store in the Philippines.
This event not only marks an important addition to the brand’s 3,200 locations across 54 countries worldwide, but also significantly and essentially completes the roster of international fashion brands, which Filipinos previously only accessed abroad.
In the lead up to the much awaited flagship store opening at the SM Mega Fashion Hall in August, H&M invited The Manila Times to be among the first in the country to take a peek at the fashion label’s very first local outing. The exclusive preview of the Studio Autumn/Winter 2014 collection for men, women and children’s wear was held at the H&M Showroom at the Zuellig Building in Makati City.
Amid such up-to-the-minute fashion pieces, The Manila Times sat down with Dan Meija, H&M public relations manager for the Philippines, to talk more about this milestone in the brand’s growth, as well as for the country’s competence as a shopping destination in the region.
“It is very important for H&M to expand not just in Asia, but globally in general. And we see that the Philippines has a huge potential [for the brand to grow,” said Meija.
He also answered the question on everyone’s minds on why it took this long for H&M to come to Manila, when it had already set up shops in key cities in Southeast Asia in the last decade.
"It’s not H&M’s goal to be the first to enter a market. The brand would like to grow in a controlled manner but with continued high profitability in new and existing markets,” Meija explained.
He added that for the brand, it is all about the right timing, and that the Philippines is as much as a priority for H&M as other Asian countries.
"Every market is H&M’s priority. But from a local standpoint, 2013 and 2014 are very exciting times for the Philippines in which we’ve seen international brands come in. We’re actually opening at the best time in the country when the economy is good, and the consumer behavior is very positive,” Meija elaborated.
In the Philippines, H&M has no licensee or distributor as other foreign brands do. The Swedish company itself is running the business independently.
For Meija, this is a very ideal set-up since the mother company would oversee the entire shopping experience, all the way to managing price points.
“This is very significant because we can guarantee that Manila will have the total H&M experience here. The brand’s business concept is ‘fashion and quality at the best prices,’ so we can make sure patrons come out of the store with the best deals, without ever having to say it’s more expensive than buying from H&M stores in other countries,” Meija explained.
He went on to discuss the factors the company considered before opening in the Philippines. Besides going over taxes and local policies, he zeroed in on location as top on H&M’s list in finally setting up shop.
Scouring the capital for the best place for a flagship store, the brand finally chose the 3,000-square kilometer space in at the new Mega Fashion Hall in Mandaluyong City.
“The Mega Fashion Hall is central whether you are coming from the south or the north. And as we all know, [SM [SM Megamall]the biggest shopping mall in the Philippines,” Meija noted.
Great classic clothing
For years now, it has been customary for Filipinos to shop at H&M stores whenever traveling abroad, proof that the brand is indeed considered a source of great classic clothing and trendy fashion finds around the world.
As H&M finally opens in the third quarter of 2014, Meija is just as excited as local fashionistas that there is no longer need to go abroad for their fill of H&M.
“Filipinos are matured costumers. We’re very practical when it comes to spending, and we take note of style, good quality, and of course the price. Filipinos look at these when buying [clo[clothes]they know that H&M can bring them all these.”
For updates in the lead up to opening day, as well as the chosen Filipino brand ambassadors, follow H&M Philippines’ official Twitter account (@hmphilippines).