Revealed: Three H&M QLD stores marked for closure

H&M is triming its store footprint. Picture: Shae Beplate.
H&M is triming its store footprint. Picture: Shae Beplate.

Department store H&M is looking to close up to seven of its stores in Australia as it battles tough conditions for fashion and a bid to move customers onto its new online platform.

One H&M store in Chatswood, in Sydney's north, has already been closed with fears that three more in Queensland will follow at Townsville, Rockhampton and Chermside in Brisbane.

The decision by the global Swedish brand to slim down its footprint in Australia brings to an end a rapid and aggressive expansion of the Swedish retail chain here which kicked off with its maiden store in Melbourne in 2014 and which was greeted by 15,000 customers surging through the store on its first open day.

H&M is bulking up its online operations.
H&M is bulking up its online operations.

The Swedish retailer and world's second biggest fashion chain, popular for its private label fashions, quickly expanded to have 49 stores in Australia but now up to seven could close including a key site in Bondi, Sydney.

Retail industry insiders have provided a list of the H&M stores staring down the barrel of being closed, which are; Townsville (QLD), Rockhampton (QLD), Chermside (QLD) Bondi Junction (NSW), Kotara (Newcastle, NSW), and Warringah Mall (NSW).

The seventh store in Chatswood, NSW, was quietly closed in January.

Some of these stores have been trading for years with Townsville and Rockhampton both opened in 2017 as the 7th and 8th stores to open their doors for the Swedish retailer in Australia.

A spokeswoman for H&M declined to comment on the store closures.

It is believed internally H&M is preparing the final leasing, legal and other documents to begin briefing its 1300 staff on the planned round of store closures.

Many of the H&M stores speculated to be on the cards to close are in shopping centres under the Westfield banner owned by Scentre Group and would represent large store footprints across multiple levels that would need a number of new retail tenants to fill.

Opening of H&M Hobart store. Picture: NIKKI DAVIS-JONES
Opening of H&M Hobart store. Picture: NIKKI DAVIS-JONES

The global COVID-19 pandemic has dented the Swedish chain's profitability and in October H&M announced it would close 250 stores around the world from its portfolio of 5000 stores.

Australia has been one of the best performing regions for H&M since it first opened in 2014 as it and a number of other foreign fashion retailers flocked to Australia in the wake of the global financial crisis such as Zara, Uniqlo and Muji.

However, lately H&M's performance in Australia has stumbled as it poured tens of millions of dollars into an aggressive expansion. For 2019 H&M Australia lurched to a full-year loss of $1.19m from a profit of $2.6m in 2018 although revenue was stronger, up to $390.3m from $354.2m as new store openings helped sales.

H&M recently launched an online site and has stated that globally it would invest more in its digital assets to accelerate the push to online.

Originally published as Revealed: Two H&M; QLD stores marked for closure



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