Despite closing 250 stores globally, Swedish retailer H&M is bullish on the Indian market. H&M said it will open a new store in Lucknow this year followed by a high street store in Bhubaneswar. In Lucknow, it will open at the mall Phoenix Palassio.
"Future in India means growth. India has a great potential, and the current crisis has not diluted the country's potential, only delayed it for some time, until the vaccination is found," says Janne Einola, Country Manager - H&M India.
On India's expansion strategy, he said, "We will continue what we have been doing for the last five years. We will continue to open physical stores too"
He adds, "We don't see any reason not to do so because we are seeing great response and love for the brand. We want to make it possible for everyone to look and feel good so that means we need to be available for more customers than we are today."
On the new changes, he says there will be continued focus on building the digital experience as more and more customers are now shopping online. "A step towards that was the launch of the loyalty programme Hello Member in India recently to offer more personalised shopping experience," he says.
But does that mean physical stores will take a backseat?
He says, "It is not online will take over the stores but it is accelerating and more and more people are trying digital channel."
"While digital is growing, but physical stores will continue to be significant and play an important role in the future. We are relatively small with less than 50 stores in the market today. We can still expand in tier two cities when we find the right location and still strengthen our position in the tier one cities," he added.
Einola says the brand is seeing demand for its already wide range of value for money products.
The company has been growing 40 per cent year-on-year in the last four years, reaching a turnover of over Rs 1,700 crore last year.
Since the foray of H&M in the country in 2015, Einola has been leading the brand as Country Manager. He has now decided to move on from the company after 23 years. He will be taking a short sabbatical to spend time with his family in Finland before he decides his next innings.
In India, H&M operates 48 stores across 24 cities and are also present online on HM.com and Myntra.