Bengaluru: Swedish retailer Hennes and Mauritz Retail Pvt. Ltd (H&M) will open its first Punjab store in Mohali’s North Country Mall, which also has stores such as Zara, Marks and Spencer’s, Decathlon and West-side, the company said on Tuesday.
The new store, spread over 27,500 sq. ft, will open this summer, even as shoppers await the opening of the brand’s stores in large cities such as Mumbai and Bengaluru that are due to open during the year.
“Punjab is an extremely branded market when it comes to fashion,” said Ankur Bisen, executive director for consumer and retail practice at Technopak. Footfall analysis of top Delhi malls, Bisen added, suggests that at least 20-30% shoppers trickle in from Punjab.
Mohali is a satellite city of Chandigarh, which itself is one of the largest retail markets in the state. As per 2011 census, Mohali’s urban agglomeration had a population of 176,152, with 92,407 males and 83,745 females. Chandigarh, Mohali and Panchkula form the tri-city region.
“We look forward to opening the H&M store in Mohali which has easy accessibility within the Tricity and other parts of Punjab,” said Janne Einola, country manager at Hennes and Mauritz Retail Pvt. Ltd. “We see great potential for further expansion both in our existing regions and new regions in India,” he added.
Yet, retail experts reckon that for H&M, “it’s a bold decision” as most retailers start with opening stores in large metros before moving in to smaller towns.
“Clearly, they are trying to open the market and not just concentrate on the top metros. It’s a smart strategy,” Bisen said. Plus, Mohali is a cosmopolitan market, he added.
In 2013, Zara tried a similar strategy of moving to a small city, with a store in Surat.
A vast diaspora in Punjab has helped make shoppers more brand and fashion conscious than those in other markets up north. Shoppers in Punjab, added Bisen, are also wealthy and discerning. Chandigarh services shoppers through Elante mall, with brands such as Steve Madden, Zara, Calvin Klein and Brooks Brothers, among others.
Finding shoppers in the market thus won’t be a problem, but scale will.
“Its not a big market—but they don’t have much to lose,” said another retail expert, who did not wish to be named.
H&M has also announced its plans to open stores in the Delhi and NCR region, Mumbai and Bengaluru. H&M will make an estimated investment of Rs.700 crore in India to open 50 stores. It launched its first store in Delhi in October last year and currently operates two stores in Delhi.