H&M entered Japan’s fashion market initially using a green field strategy, opening stores. On September 13, 2008, H&M opened the first store in Japan in Ginza, and is planning two more stores in Shibuya (see picture below) and in Harajuku.

H&M adapted it’s global way of doing things to Japan’s market needs – for example, H&M introduced “Quality Managers& in it’s Japan store, in order to match Japan’s consumers high expectations for quality (and I guess also to avoid problems with Japan’s recently introduced product liability laws).

One week after opening, customers are queuing in line to enter the store – typical waiting time is about 2 hours, daily number of visitors to the store are estimated ot be about 8000/day.

Closest foreign competitors in Japan include US retailer GAP, and Spanish retailer Inditex (Diseno Textil SA)’s ZARA.

Biggest Japanese competitor is Fast Retailing’s UNIQLO.

H&M is preparing to open the second and third stores in Shibuya (photo below) and in Harajuku.

Our comments:

H&M has had a very successful start and has created a successful opening “event”. To be successful longterm H&M will have to:

  • sufficiently tune to Japan,
  • continue to innovate,
  • compete successfully especially with UNIQLO
H&M opening in Ginza
H&M opening in Ginza
H&M's building in Ginza
H&M’s building in Ginza
H&M in Tokyo-Ginza
H&M in Tokyo-Ginza
H&M building the second store in Tokyo-Shibuya
H&M building the second store in Tokyo-Shibuya

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