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Health, Beauty & Fashion

H&M opens to eager shoppers

Swedish high street fashion label draws thousands at launch of first SE-Asian store in Orchard Road
The Straits Times - September 4, 2011
By: Rohaizatul Azhar
| More
H&M opens to eager shoppers The queue outside the H&M store at Orchard Building yesterday. The first five in line were allowed to enter about 10 minutes early, each with a $250 voucher in hand. -- ST PHOTOS: TED CHEN

There are queues and then there are queues like the one outside H&M yesterday, when the Swedish high street fashion label opened its 30,000 sq ft store in the heart of Orchard Road.

Even before the store - its first in South-east Asia - swung open its doors at 11am yesterday, a snaking line of more than 1,500 shoppers had already formed outside, looping several times between the store at Orchard Building and 313 Somerset two blocks away.

Some had started queuing the day before, hoping to be among the first five to receive $250 worth of shopping gift cards and the subsequent 10 to get a $100 card each. The 300 shoppers after that also got a $20 gift card each.

A 40-minute bout of rain yesterday morning did not deter shoppers from wanting to be among the first to step into the store, which spreads over three storeys and sells everything from colourful togs for children at $5.90 to full leather jackets for men at $349.

While some staff members let in shoppers in batches of 500, others were busy handing out umbrellas and bottles of mineral water. At least 2,000 umbrellas and 5,000 bottles of water were given away.

The turnout caught the company by surprise.

Mr Lex Keijser, H&M's country manager for Greater China and Singapore, said: 'We were afraid that no one would turn up and get in line because of the humid weather.'

The Swedish brand, known for its affordable and chic fashion, also drew long queues when it opened stores in Hong Kong and Shanghai in 2007 and in Tokyo the following year.

Those in the queue here, mostly young women and foreigners, are fans of the label who are thankful that they no longer have to travel out of Singapore to get their H&M goods.

Inside the store yesterday, there were also lines outside the changing rooms. Others combed through clothes racks filled with the brand's fall/winter 2011 collection. Among them was 19-year-old student Mohd Razif, who was one of the first five customers in the queue, which he joined at 2.30pm the day before.

Looking visibly tired, he was nonetheless intent on spending his $250 gift card and was toting a shopping bag full of apparel and accessories.

'I didn't get much sleep last night so I'm quite exhausted. But I'm trying my best to stay focused and shop for the things that I want,' he said.

The label's arrival in Singapore has been long- awaited. Four years ago, there was already talk that it was setting up shop here, but that fizzled out.

Mr Keijser said getting the right location and opening at the right time was key in its decision-making for expansion. 'It is no goal in itself to be early to enter a specific market. We want to continue to grow in a controlled manner with continued high profitability in both new and existing H&M markets,' he explained.

The last time a fashion label created similar frenzy here was when Uniqlo first opened in 2009 at the Tampines One mall.

At closing time on opening day, there were still many left in the queue but the Japanese fast-fashion retailer had to turn them away.

 

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