Home / Companies / People /  India will be a big market for H&M globally: Janne Einola

Hennes and Mauritz AB, the world’s second-largest fashion retailer, has had a good run in India. Last year, its flagship affordable clothing brand H&M crossed 1,100 crore in sales, three years after entering the market. It currently has 41 stores, and will continue to add one store a month. It has also launched its e-commerce site for Indian shoppers, besides having its products available on Flipkart-owned fashion websites Jabong and Myntra later this year.

Janne Einola, H&M India’s country manager, said it is keen to add more brands, given the country’s growing youth population and quick adoption of western wear. Globally, H&M Group sells through eight brands including H&M HOME, Arket, & Other Stories, COS and Monki. Edited excerpts:

How has the business been for H&M in India?

We completed 42 months in this market in March, and we are now operating 41 stores—since we came into the market, on an average, we have opened one store a month, and that we will continue. It isn’t about growing very fast, but to grow in a sustainable way. When we came in 2015, we said we want to be a pan-India company—we don’t only want to focus on the metros, but also to go at an early stage to tier II cities. A year ago, we went online through H&M’s India website and, this year somewhere in autumn, we will go ahead with sales on Myntra and Jabong. That makes it only the second online marketplace for H&M in the world (after China’s Tmall) to sell H&M products.

How is the response to your online sales?

Globally, H&M has a 14% share of business from online. H&M.com in India is already in double-digits in terms of contribution to sales, and we are close to the average of the company (globally). Through online, we are also seeing where the demand is in India, and that could help us with physical expansion as well.

Globally, H&M is in the middle of a turnaround plan—to reduce the sale of discounted items and cut excessive inventory. Will it be same for India?

We have been lucky that in India we have not been carrying any big stock. That’s the reason we haven’t been running any big mid-season sales here for the year. So, our stock is in good shape. We don’t have the global problem of a bigger stock. Our expansion strategy has been successful...we have been buying in the right way for the market.

But most of all, we have seen big increase in usage of western clothes among customers. I have been here four years and you see more and more people who are aware of the current fashion.

You had promised an investment of 700 crore to open 50 stores by 2020 in India. Will we see more investments?

The initial announcement was for an amount up to 700 crore; where we are today exactly with the figure I’m not 100% aware. We will quickly cross the 50 stores mark.

Luckily all of the 700 crore hasn’t been put in. The investment will not stop at 50 stores, and we will continue to invest as we believe India will be a big market for H&M globally. The investment isn’t just in stores—we are looking at warehouses, investing in staff, etc.

H&M Group has many brands. Will you get more brands to India?

For sure, someday. When it will happen, I don’t know. We have eight more brands globally. H&M as a group is always looking at newer possibilities, but everything takes time.


Suneera Tandon

Suneera Tandon is a New Delhi based reporter covering consumer goods for Mint. Suneera reports on fast moving consumer goods makers, retailers as well as other consumer-facing businesses such as restaurants and malls. She is deeply interested in what consumers across urban and rural India buy, wear and eat. Suneera holds a masters degree in English Literature from the University of Delhi.
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