Clothing retailer Hennes & Mauritz CE Karl-Johan Persson speaks during a news conference in Stockholm. Picture: REUTERS
Clothing retailer Hennes & Mauritz CE Karl-Johan Persson speaks during a news conference in Stockholm. Picture: REUTERS

HENNES & Mauritz (H&M), the world’s second-largest fashion chain, is the latest in a string of top global brands set to open shop in South Africa.

H&M has signed a lease to open a store in Mall of Africa in Johannesburg, and is working to find a way to open in the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town, according to sources.

Mall of Africa, which is due to open at the end of 2015, is being developed by Atterbury Property Holdings. A confidentiality agreement is in place, and the retailer is working on finding premises in Cape Town. H&M looked at the previous Pick n Pay site in the V&A Waterfront, but that did not materialise, and is now looking at other options.

H&M has been keen to get into the local market but, similarly to clothing and accessories retailer Zara, is finding it difficult to secure prime space in the size it requires at top centres. The retailer also looked at Sandton City, but it has not yet found a suitable site there.

The Swedish retail giant pioneered the concept of fast-fashion stores by collaborating with top designers and celebrities. It is playing catch-up with Zara, which is owned by Inditex of Spain, and Arcadia Group’s Topshop, both of which are now operating in South Africa

Hennes & Mauritz has six independent brands, including Weekday, and operates in more than 40 markets. The fashion chain opened its first store south of the equator in Chile in March and is expected to expand further around the world.

H&M is keeping its cards close to its chest, but CEO Karl-Johan Persson told the Financial Times in May that the group was considering starting production in South America and Africa.

The group was founded by Karl-Johan’s grandfather, Erling, and was previously run by his father, Stefan.

• This article was first published in Sunday Times: Business Times