U.S. News

H&M Looks Smart

Swedish fashion retailer Hennes & Mauritz posted a healthy first-quarter profit, but it’s the company’s second-quarter results that may be very interesting and --the company hopes -- rewarding.

In March, H&M opened its first Collections of Style store, a new chain that will sell clothes at a higher price range. The first store is located on the fashionable and upscale Regent Street in Central London. Stores are scheduled to open soon in Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands.

March also brought the well-publicized launch of a collection co-designed by pop star Madonna, a move the company hopes will further boost sales during the second quarter. The M By Madonna collection hit stores March 22. Initial reaction was disappointing.

The Swedish retailer, a leader affordable fashion -- was one of the first to combine celebrity collections with budget prices. Their much-anticipated clothing line, "M by Madonna" went on sale March 22nd. It is the second collection by Madonna for H&M. The 30-piece line was co-designed by Madonna and the Swedish retailer’s Director of Design, Margereta Van den Bosh, and includes a white trench coat, printed blouses and sequined shift dresses. Prices range from $30 to $580. In many locations, the clothes went flying off the racks in less than an hour. H&M said the "M by Madonna" collection reflects Madonna’s "timeless, unique and always glamorous style."

Madonna is not the only celebrity to promote H&M clothes. Australian pop singer Kylie Minogue -- a tad closer in age to the company’s core customer -- was recently hired to model swimwear.

H&M has also called upon some of fashion’s biggest names to design collections with hot selling lines by Stella McCartney, Karl Lagerfeld and cult label Viktor Rolf.

H&M has been expanding rapidly and the company plans to continue do so. In the second quarter alone, 75 new stores are slated for opening – a good number of them in the U.S. The company’s first store in Hong Kong opened earlier this month and sales have reportedly exceeded expectations. H&M has more than 1,300 stores in 28 countries, Indeed, the company said expansion helped boost sales in the first quarter as net profit rose 27%.