Closing a secondary H&M store in London’s West End makes sense. There are just too many of the things.

News that H&M is marketing its store at 360-366 Oxford Street should come as little surprise really.

And the fact that it is seeking buyers for the lease, which is understood to expire in a couple of years, shouldn’t necessarily be blamed on a combination of infeasibly high rents and rising business rates.

“Might there not actually be another reason why H&M is trying to offload its middle-of-Oxford Street store: that there are just too many branches in a small area?”

If this view were taken, then the retailer’s beautiful and massive store on New York’s Fifth Avenue would also probably be under threat – rents there are higher than Oxford Street, and running a multi-floor store with a huge glass frontage is an expensive business.

Might there not actually be another reason why H&M is trying to offload its middle-of-Oxford Street store: that there are just too many branches in a small area? Think about it this way.

Branching out

Start at the Tottenham Court Road end of London’s premier mid-market thoroughfare and the first H&M encountered is way before the shopper reaches Oxford Circus.

Keep going and when Oxford Circus actually is reached there is indeed a multi-floor store, replete with a substantial beauty department on the ground floor, followed by multiple levels of inexpensive fashion.

At this point, the Oxford Street boulevardier has a choice: hang a left and head down Regent Street where there is another H&M behemoth, or keep going forwards and encounter the branch that is up for grabs.

If the legs are up to it, there are further branches much less than a mile distant, in Covent Garden or across the park in Knightsbridge, to pinpoint just a couple. Small wonder therefore that if trade is even a mite lacklustre, the numbers just won’t stack up.

Too many of them

H&M may have fallen prey to cannibalisation and the law of diminishing returns.

“There must surely be a good reason that Primark, the epitome of mass merchandising and low price, has only two stores in the West End”

Multiple branches in a small(ish) area may yield multiples of a single outpost, but there is a tipping point when the returns won’t measure up to the additional investment as further stores are opened.

There must surely be a good reason that Primark, the epitome of mass merchandising and low price, has only two stores in the West End. They bookend Oxford Street and are sufficiently far apart not to affect each other greatly.

The unpalatable fact for H&M may be that it is overextended in central London and that it is the stores wot done it, not the rents or rates, although these will be contributory factors.