Swedish fashion brand makes Cebu debut

SWEDISH retail brand H&M (Hennes & Mauritz) is opening its doors to Cebuano shoppers at the Ayala Center Cebu today.

Top officials are confident the brand, which was long clamored for by Filipinos to enter the Philippine market, will get a positive reception among Cebuanos similar to long queues experienced during its opening day in Manila last year.

H&M Cebu is the biggest H&M store in the Philippines to date. The store covers three floors that occupy 3,800 square meters of Ayala Center Cebu’s leasable space.

“We are just so happy we are given this huge space for our first store in Cebu. We are very well received in the Philippines with the long queues and sold-out collections, which is really amazing. I trust we will get the same vibrance in Cebu,” said Fredrik Famm, H&M country manager for Southeast Asia, in an interview Wednesday.

According to the press release, the first 300 customers in line will receive gift cards valued as high as P5,000 and opening offers that are up to 50 percent off.

H&M Cebu is the 11th store in the country. By year end, the retail brand will have a total of 12 stores nationwide, the latest will be the second H&M store in Cebu at SM Seaside City in South Road Properties, which will open on Dec. 9.

Famm sees the Philippines as a destination where there is much growth potential, citing its mature retail market reflected by the increasing number of commercial establishments being put up in key cities like Cebu.

The country’s over 100 million consumers and well-travelled population, he added, also presents opportunities for international retail brands to thrive.

A report obtained from the Philippine Retailers Association noted that as of the first quarter this year, consumer spending in the country hit an all-time high of P1.278 trillion from P1.259 trillion in the last quarter of 2014.

For the month of May, 2015 alone, the report said that retail sales increased 1.5 percent over the same month last year.

Consumer spending in the Philippines averaged P875.888 billion since 1998 up to January 2015. It also added that the country posted a record low of P581.662 billion in sales in the first quarter of 1998.

H&M Ayala Center is a full concept store carrying ladies wear, mens wear, kids clothing and home accessories. Famm said the brand is a “combination of fashion, quality, price and sustainability.”

“Every person who’s got an interest in fashion is our customer. Regardless of your personality, you will find something in our stores,” said Famm.

More than just brining in high-quality and value for money fashion items, H&M will also introduce its Garment Collecting initiative in Cebu, were customers can donate their used clothes and get discount voucher at 15 percent to use for their next purchase.

Famm said this initiative, which is implemented through its partner, I:Collect, a global recycling company, is the company’s way of protecting and preserving the environment.

H&M is said to be the first fashion company to launch a global collection initiative. This initiative, Famm said, “can help reduce waste at the same time give old and worn out garments a new life.”

“Of the thousand tons of textiles that people throw away every where, as much as 95 percent could be reworn or recycled,” the firm said in its website.

“Of the used clothes, many things can still be redone. Like, can reuse it and turn them into other products like car seats and other purposes; we can also recycle by turning these old textiles to new fibers,” said Famm.

This global initiative is being implemented all over H&M’s 3,900 stores worldwide. It has so far collected a total of 7,600 tons of used clothing or 38 million pieces of clothes.

Last December, H&M collected 20 tons of used clothing in the Philippines.

According to Famm, consumers’ interest on goods made out of sustainable processes is gaining popularity.

“For H&M, this is a growing part in our production,” he said, adding that the retail brand is also one of the largest buyers of organic cotton in the world from suppliers who also adopt sustainable processes in their own operations. “In many markets, we get high demand of this type from our customers.”

H&M products, which are made from sustainable materials, are identified in competitive green price tags.

After Cebu, the officials are keen on looking at other interesting cities in the Philippines where they can set-up more H&M stores.

“We see a lot of potential in all major cities in the country. We are looking for appropriate locations. We are kind of picky on that, but we want to be in areas where our customers are,” said Famm.
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