Over the past decade, H&M has become an ever more dominant force as its many store fronts have taken over British high streets.
The Swedish fashion group has diversified from one mainstream store catering for the masses to seven fascias, each attempting to capture a distinct customer type.
While it is still expanding its eponymous fascia, rolling out smaller brands – each primed to forge a lasting connection with a certain type of consumer – adds many more strings to its bow.
Retail Week takes a look at each of its brands.
After launching in its native Sweden in 1947, Hennes & Mauritz arrived on British high streets in 1976. The London store was its first overseas and the UK is now peppered with its red and white signage.
The ultimate in democratic fashion, H&M attempts to cater for a wide customer base, from teenage range Divided to Conscious sustainable ranges via its mainline women’s ranges.
Aesthetic: H&M can’t be said to have one aesthetic and instead offers fast fashion at ultra-affordable prices.
Price point: varies from about £5 for its cheapest t-shirt to £80 for a premium coat.
Target customer: aims to capture the widest possible audience although the majority of its customers are women and men under 30.
Growth potential: H&M has an astonishing 4,087 stores in 66 countries and offers online shopping in 41 countries. Despite recent falling sales, it is continuing to expand and its stores make up the bulk of H&M group, currently the world’s second biggest retail group, second only to Inditex.
USP: Its ubiquity – a democratic take on trends to millions across the globe.
The H&M group often uses the UK high street to test its new ventures and Cos, its first fascia outside its eponymous store, made its debut here.
Arriving in the UK a decade ago, Cos wowed British consumers with its minimalistic aesthetic.
Its clean lines and sculptural cuts created an urban, unisex style and fostered a craze for all things Scandinavian that shows no sign of abating.
It was clear from the off, looking at the product, price point and in-store environment, that this was H&M’s grown up counterpart.
Aesthetic: minimalist cuts, clean lines and predominantly plain fabrics.
Price point: £50 for a long sleeved top, £175 for a coat.
Target customer: age wise, Cos’ sweet spot is probably a woman in her 30s or 40s but its customer ranges from 20s to 50s. What unites their customer base is that they’re relatively affluent and predominantly professional women.
Growth potential: over the past decade, Cos has built a presence across Australia, Europe, the Middle East, North America and southeast Asia. It now has 209 stores across 35 markets and has an online presence in 19 of those. H&M group clearly intends for Cos to become one of its biggest brands and it still has a lot of growth potential.
USP: clean lines and hyper-modern designs.
& Other Stories
H&M’s third major brand was also first tested in London, launching in a prime spot on Regent Street in 2013.
With a much more feminine aesthetic than Cos, the brand was originally intended to be a standalone beauty store and consequently has a much more extensive beauty offer than most fashion retailers.
Aesthetic: a feminine take on current trends with a lot of detail-heavy items and high quality fabrications.
Price point: about £30 for a long sleeved top, to £160 for a coat.
Target customer: relatively affluent women in their 20s and 30s. Unusually for an H&M brand, there is no menswear offer.
Growth potential: & Other Stories has spread fast in the four years since it launched and is clearly a growth engine for H&M. It has 55 stores in 15 markets around the world and operates online in 14 countries. New categories are being explored, and stationery was recently launched.
USP: Its Paris and Stockholm ateliers, which put out its trademark ‘Stories’ collections, and its sophisticated beauty offer.
Launching in London tomorrow, Arket is H&M’s seventh fascia and is intended to be a ‘modern market’.
Aimed at a 30-plus audience – it sells upmarket kidswear and homeware – Arket offers a classic wardrobe full of staple pieces that are updated seasonally.
A white cotton shirt is made in a heavier fabric for autumn for instance while a navy round neck knit will come in a finer gauze in spring. Each item will come with a serial code which signifies its fabrication, colour and style, designed to make it easier for customers to find their favourite staple items.
Aesthetic: classic, great quality staple pieces designed for all ages.
Price point: £12 for a cotton T-shirt, £150 for a light parka.
Target customer: affluent 30 and 40-somethings, possibly with young children in tow.
Growth potential: the group is currently readying locations in Covent Garden, Copenhagen and Stockholm to be opened in the weeks and months following the Regent Street launch, while the online store will launch across 18 countries simultaneously this week. While it is too early to say for certain what intentions H&M has for Arket, the premium locations and large stores suggest it will be another major revenue stream for the group.
USP: classic, good quality wardrobe staples and a well-executed, coherent lifestyle brand.
Founded in 2000 by four friends, Weekday was originally called Weekend as it only opened on Saturdays and Sundays. Growing in popularity, it moved to seven days a week and changed its name.
Acquired by H&M in 2008, the brand is inspired by Scandinavian street style and has a youth-centric, urban aesthetic.
In-store printing stations and DJ booths add to its millennial appeal, as do socially aware projects such as the non-gender specific collection MTWTFSS/HE and If x Weekday, a collaboration with a Nordic insurance company to create a line of fashionable reflective accessories for cyclists.
Aesthetic: casual, simple silhouettes with a nod to urban street style.
Price point: about £18 for a long sleeved top, to £70 for a coat.
Target customer: urban teens and 20-somethings with a moderate disposable income.
Growth potential: Weekday now has 29 stores across eight markets and ships to 18 countries, indicating that H&M is keeping this brand small. The fact that it has taken the best part of a decade to make its way to London is very telling and would suggest Weekday is not seen as a mainstream outlet by H&M management.
USP: brand power – Weekday’s exclusivity means its highly prized among its target millennial audience.
Denim brand Cheap Monday was born out of Weekday, launching as its jeans brand in 2004. The following year it was developed into a brand in its own right and became part of the H&M group in 2008.
It arrived on London’s Carnaby Street in 2012 along with sister brand Monki.
Aesthetic: an exhaustive offer of on-trend denim, from jeans to dungaree dresses with the odd flannel shirt thrown in for good measure.
Price point: £50 for a pair of jeans.
Target customer: a relatively young customer base attracted to its ‘No bullsh*t jeanswear’ slogan and androgynous style.
Growth potential: Cheap Monday has just three stores worldwide in addition to its website, which ships throughout Europe. One store is next door to Monki’s store on Carnaby Street and two in China. It suggests H&M consider this more of a label than a retail outlet – it is stocked in more than 1,800 stores worldwide.
USP: an exhaustive take on every denim style a consumer could want.
Monki arrived on British shores in 2012, along with sister brand Cheap Monday. Its youthful style burst on to London’s Carnaby Street and still sits there today.
Monki first opened in Gothenburg in 2006 and joined the H&M group two years later.
Its fast fashion fuses Scandi and Asian street styles and is complemented by gold spangled interiors and inventive in-store features such as saloon door style changing rooms.
Aesthetic: youth-focused, fun and laidback with pops of bright colour and pattern.
Price point: from £15 for a long-sleeved top, to £65 for a coat.
Target customer: firmly targeting the teenage and 20s market, Monki makes a play for millenials who wouldn’t be caught dead in a Missguided bodycon dress.
Growth potential: In accordance with its design principles, Monki has a presence across Europe and Asia. It is unknown whether H&M will take the brand to other markets such as the US or Australia but as it only has two stores in the UK, it clearly is not destined to be one of the H&M’s biggest brands.
USP: Millennial focused fashion complemented by its creative take on ethical issues such as its Monki Thinks campaigns on issues such as moon cups and body image.