H&M Group has never been in any rush to pursue online sales, particularly in the U.S. Back in 2012, when launching e-commerce sites in other countries, the fast fashion retailer announced its U.S. site would not go live until the summer of 2013. At the time, analysts expressed disappointment with H&M's slow pace, suggesting it would give rivals such as Zara a competitive advantage.
While some may still feel H&M is being too deliberate when it comes to its online business (it just launched its site in France), the company's overall numbers are headed upward. Sales at the company increased 12 percent during its first quarter (Dec. - Feb.) over the same period a year earlier. Sales in February were up 11 percent, despite harsh weather in the U.S. and other markets where H&M does business.
The retailer has achieved its sales gains, largely, because of an aggressive approach to opening stores. Over the past year, H&M opened 374 new locations (a 13 percent increase) in markets around the world, and plans to open a similar number this year. The company, which currently operates in 53 markets around the globe, announced last month that it would open its first stores in Australia, India and the Philippines later this year.
According to Bloomberg Businessweek reports, H&M is looking to new lines to broaden its appeal. The company launched a new line of workout clothing, H&M Sport, in January to compete with Gap, Lululemon, Uniqlo and others in the space.
Do you think H&M's aggressive store opening strategy and go-slow digital approach will help or hurt the business over the longer haul?