The venerable GPO building has stood at Melbourne’s heart for 150 years, with road distances to the city measured in kilometres to its doors. But the site now looks likely to become synonymous with a Swedish clothes shop, with HM set to join the legion of overseas retailers that have landed in Australia.
HM will open the doors to its first Australian store at 10am on Saturday, following an advertising carpet-bombing of Melbourne that has lasted several weeks.
HM, which has nearly 3,000 stores in 48 countries, has promised high quality but affordable fashion in its enormous 5,000 square metre GPO store, with the retailer set to unveil an Australian-specific range.
Karl-Johan Persson, the company’s chief executive, has already revealed HM is looking to open six stores across the country.
HM will sit near another recent Australian entrant, Zara, on Bourke Street. Overseas brands Topshop, Uniqlo and Karen Millen have all expanded to Australia in the last few years.
Retail consultant Brian Walker told Guardian Australia the influx of overseas retailers will be of concern to the likes of Myer and David Jones.
“Australian retailers used to look to places like HM and Zara to copy them, frankly, and sell them at high mark ups,” he said. “Now their inspiration is their competitor.
“This is now a very competitive space. It’s very challenging for Myer and David Jones because the domination of department stores in this country is changing dramatically.”
Walker said on standard ratio of $10,000 in sales per square metre, HM will be aiming for $50m in annual sales.
“I think of them as ‘push to posh’ – it’s fast fashion trends, throwaway items delivered right on time,” he said.
“I think HM will have more of an impact than other fashion stores because they are very smart, they know the market well from online sales and they are changing the idea that fashion is meant to last. They will sell an ocean of clothing.”