New Delhi: Swedish fast-fashion retailer Hennes and Mauritz (H&M) will launch an India specific festive collection across its stores this year marking the retailer's maiden attempt to localize its offerings for the Indian market where it has scaled to 41 stores now, a top executive at the company told Mint in an interview.

Later this week, shoppers at H&M stores and online, will be able to access its festive collection — a range of H&M’s signature western wear — designed by the retailer's global team with help from the brand’s local team here. The collection, put together, after local market research, is a combination of locally-inspired paisley prints, along with bright sequined jackets for women, and shirts for men.

“We need a certain size and scale and we need to the right time to do such a local launch," Janne Einola, H&M India's country manager told Mint in an interview. “We need to understand the demand, we need to understand what customers are looking for. We didn't want to bring an ethnic collection—which is traditional Indian wear because this is not what we do. We are good in western clothes, that's why we believe it is nice to offer a different kind of collection to the modern Indian shoppers," he said.

The launch will be supported by a digital marketing campaign.

H&M designs such country-specific collection in other markets as well; for instance, in China, it sells a new collection during the country's annual Chinese New Year festivities.

India entered the annual over month-long festive season that is celebrated across the country and contributes significantly to sales of retailers selling home appliances, electronics, and apparel.

H&M’s move to localize its offerings for an India specific occasion comes after Japanese retailer UNIQLO made its India debut last week and launched a “kurta collection" for shoppers in collaboration with local designer Rina Singh. The merchandise will be sold in some other markets where UNIQLO is present—Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines.

Einola, however, said that H&M will not work with local designers in India for such country-specific collaborations.

H&M has been in India for over four years now and has over 40 stores in the country with four more scheduled to open soon.

And it has been growing at a swift pace by selling its low-priced daily and fashionable wear for men and women. For the third-quarter ended 31 August, sales at the company’s India business grew 29%, the company said in its nine-month report released late last week. “During this period - H&M was successfully launched on India's leading e-commerce platform Myntra in August. The reception has exceeded the company’s high expectations," the report added. For the year ended 30 November, 2018, sales at the fast fashion retailer grew 29% to 1,108.2 crore. H&M follows a December to November financial year.

In March 2018, the company even expanded into e-commerce sales in India in order to reach a wider market.

Einola added that the company’s push to introduce more lower-priced clothing, reducing sales days and adding more stores in India is helping the brand record better sales in the country.

Globally, H&M has been trying to revamp its business amid a shift in business strategy as it seeks to chase better profitability and rely less on discounted inventory. As a result, it is pushing for more full-price sales and has taken measures to reduce markdowns in its merchandise.

Einola said the brand continues to grow well despite a prolonged slowdown being witnessed by many other categories in India.

“I don’t think there is a slowdown, we are expecting one of the best festive seasons this year-- it has been a good utumn and there are no signs in our stores that there is a slowdown, we are focussed on the festive season," Einola added.

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