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H&M opens in Athens April 10, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Fashion & Style, Shopping.

Greek shoppers are in for a cheap treat. Swedish high-street giant Hennes & Mauritz – better known as H&M – opened its doors on Stadiou Street on March 29, offering Athenian consumers the bargain-priced, fashion-forward clothing and accessories that have made the brand a household name throughout the globe.

“We have been asked so many times when H&M would open in Greece,” commented H&M Managing Director Rolf Eriksen. “Now we are in the happy position of being able to announce that we are finally here. We’re sure that Greek shoppers will take maximum advantage of what we are offering: quality fashion at the best prices.”

H&M sells competitively priced collections of men’s, women’s and children’s clothing and accessories. Items on sale range from wardrobe basics like vest-tops and undies to catwalk-inspired pieces. The chain also offers maternity and plus size clothing, as well as one-off limited edition collections by celebrity designers including Stella McCartney, Karl Lagerfeld and Viktor & Rolf. The current collections of spring/summer clothing, including trendy essentials such as trapeze dresses, elegant 50s coats and voluminous jackets, is augmented by a capsule range of cleavage-exposing frocks, pencil skirts, trenchcoats and dominatrix corset belts designed by multi-talented Madonna.

H&M head of design, Margareta van den Bosch, says the 26-piece ‘M by Madonna’ line bears the singer’s unmistakable signature. “Madonna’s instinct for fashion and trends is impressive,” she says. “She has a particular awareness about style and showed amazing passion and interest in even the smallest details of every design. Her influence over the line is clear.” It is the Material Girl’s second foray into the world of clothing design: in August 2006 her line of casualwear for H&M was launched to coincide with the European leg of her concert tour.

The arrival of the Swedish fast-fashion retailer will change the face of the Greek high street, which is currently dominated by the Spanish group Inditex’s Zara, Bershka, Pull & Bear and Massimo Dutti stores. A second H&M store will be opening in Maroussi’s Avenue shopping mall (currently under construction), and after that expect to see the red H&M logo popping up on main shopping streets throughout Greece. In Spain, H&M opened its first shop in 2000 and now boasts more than 50, with further major expansion planned.

H&M was launched in Stockholm in 1947; it now operates 1,300 shops in 24 countries, including the US and UK, Austria, France, Hungary, Portugal, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Slovenia and the Czech Republic, as well as franchises in the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait. The chain’s primary expansion markets, apart from Spain, are Germany, the USA, Poland, France, Italy and Canada. This month, alongside the Athens branch, H&M also opened its first shop in Bratislava, Slovakia.

The group reported sales for the year ended 2005 amounting to 7.9 billion euros; in the same year, net profits reached 1 billion euros. In comparison, the Inditex Group, which operates 2,692 shops in 62 countries, reported sales for 2005 of 6.7 billion euros, with net profit of 800 million euros.

On the Forbes billionaires list for 2007, Stefan Persson of H&M ranked number 17 (up from number 32 last year), worth 18.4 billion dollars. Amancio Ortega of Zara, meanwhile, came in at 8th place (just below Bernard Arnault of luxury conglomerate Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton), with a personal fortune of 24 billion dollars.

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