H&M, Europe’s second fashion retailer, has launched its first store in sub-Saharan Africa in Cape Town and plans to open more in Johannesburg, following an increase in the local demand for top international brands. Promoting itself as a purveyor of “sustainable” and “democratic” fashion, the brand caters to the aspirational market of the South African middle class, as well as to “people who might not currently have the means to buy fashion”.

H&M’s entry into South Africa resulted in about 600 jobs leading up to the opening of the V&A Waterfront and Sandton City stores with 60 staffers sent to Sweden for training. H&M plans to have as many as 1,500 people employed within 12 months. In the mean time, the brand opened a production factory in Ethiopia and is now considering producing from South Africa.

In the long run, H&M plans to use South Africa as a springboard to the rest of southern Africa, East and West Africa.

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