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Sources: Swedish high-fashion chain H&M looking closely at Louisville

by Terry Boyd

David Beckham for H & M.

H&M is always at the top of the “most wanted” list when Insider Louisville (and everyone else) queries Louisvillians about which global retail brands they want to come to town.

Well, it appears we may be about to cross H&M off that list along with Trader Joe’s, the Apple Store, Anthropologie and Urban Outfitter.

Multiple commercial real estate sources and retail analysts are telling us Stockholm, Sweden-based fast-fashion house Hennes & Mauritz AB is at least making inquiries related to opening a Louisville store or stores.

(It is a “fast fashion” chain because H&M and other European retailers such as Zara have a knack for being so deeply inspired by this year’s Milan or London fashion shows that it only takes them a few months to have suspiciously similar clothes on their store racks at a fraction of the price of the couture houses.)

When we said, “So, where is H&M looking in Louisville,” our sources said, “The malls ….”

We said, “Not the Summit?”

And our sources said, “What, are you deaf? The malls.”

Which means Mall St. Matthews or Oxmoor Center, both owned by Chicago-based REIT General Growth Properties.

So, we called and emailed Dee Snyder, marketing manager for GGP here. And what we got was sort of non-denial denial.

“Unfortunately, I don’t have anything to report in that regard. If we land an H&M deal, we’ll let you know right away,” Snyder replied in an email.

So we asked, “Are you saying categorically there are no discussions with H&M?”

And Snyder replied, “I’m sorry … but we have no information on new retailers to share at this time. When we have something to announce, I’ll let you know. ”

So, we called and emailed H&M’s Manhattan-based USA Marketing Director Steve Lubomski, but got no reply.

Finally, we double-checked our sources, asking the question we always ask: “How stupid are we going to look if we run with this?”

And they double-confirmed H&M had made – is making – inquiries and remains actively interested.

These are the same sources who tipped Insider Louisville to the big retail scoops of the last two years – the arrival of Trader Joe’s and Urban Outfitters, and the new Cinemark Cinemas at Mall St. Matthews replacing the vacant Dillard’s building. Those sources say the H&M deal is NOT like the Apple store, in which Apple agreed to open a store in Louisville in order to get entree into GGP stores in larger markets.

And here is where we should note how GGP has had multiple big retail coups in Louisville during the last few years including landing the Apple Store and Anthropologie at Oxmoor Center.

H & M sees Louisville and other second-tier cities as untapped fashion markets, our sources said.

Here’s what we said about H & M way back in 2011 in our post about retail Louisville lacks:

H&M: Hennes & Mauritz AB is a Stockholm, Sweden-based chain that’s very strong in Europe. H&M is an affordable alternative there, where clothes are far more expensive than in the United States. H&M clothes are trendy, and its core audience – younger Europeans – restock. They kind of have to because the quality doesn’t compare to top U.S. brand such as Polo and Tommy Hilfiger. Great selection, good prices and the sales never end (except in countries such as Belgium, where sales dates are limited by law.) H&M has a couple of hundred stores in the United States. (Nearest location, Cincinnati.)

These days, H&M is aggressively signing deals with the world’s most sought after celebrity endorsers including Beyoncé and David Beckham.

The question is, will they sign a lease for a store here?

More as we know more.

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