16,571 $m
With an ever-increasing number of competitors gaining traction globally and more big retailers stepping into low-cost fast fashion, H&M, the Swedish multinational retail clothing company, has set its sights on finding new ways to maintain industry leadership. H&M has weathered the economic downturn well. In June, it reported forecast-beating quarterly profit growth. It has also increased market share in its main markets and expects to open 275 stores over the course of the year — including H&M’s first in South America in the first half of 2013. The secret recipe for H&M continues to be partnering with big-name designers, celebrities, and high-profile supermodels, and this strategy clearly resonates with the aspirations of its fashion savvy, pop-culture-following target customers. The brand also appeals to consumers by highlighting its dedication to using organic materials. H&M was recently named the world’s largest user of organic cotton and it aims to improve upon this practice by switching to 100% sustainable cotton by 2020. The brand did have its share of disappointments, failing to deliver on its promise of bringing an online shopping experience to US consumers. H&M’s digital presence, once a model for the industry with its dressing room feature, is now struggling to establish consistent online experiences in all markets. The silver lining for H&M is that although price discounts and tough economic conditions have kept margins decreasing, the brand remains strong.