H&M joins growing list of big-name arrivals

Swedish fashion company H&M will finally arrive on Australian shores next year.

Swedish fashion company H&M will finally arrive on Australian shores next year.

On Thursday night Australian time the chain wrote on its Facebook and Twitter profiles: "We are happy to announce that we will open our first H&M store in Australia, in 2014! Stay tuned for more details."

It shows what a digital world we live in - in previous years a press release and even a news conference would have been the norm.

The next step is finding a location, with property owners scrambling to sign up the big brand. It is understood Colliers International is acting on behalf of H&M but no lease has been signed.

However, speculation is mounting that H&M is looking at the Esprit site in Pitt Street Mall, Sydney - if Esprit agrees to be relocated to Westfield Sydney - and the GPO building in Melbourne's Bourke Street Mall, owned by superannuation fund ISPT.

If that comes to pass, the Emporium in Melbourne, co-owned by CFS Retail Trust, may look at the popular Hollister brand owned by Abercrombie & Fitch.

With H&M confirmed and the success of Zara and Topshop, Sydney and Melbourne are now seen as essential destinations for other big names.

This has been helped by the development of flagship sites and malls in both cities in the past few years.

The Japanese chain Uniqlo has already signed a lease at Emporium and could be interested in the site at 383 George Street, Sydney, upon its redevelopment.

Retail analysts say the new-look shopping centres have led to a rise in leasing inquiries.

In the December 2012 quarter, 27 per cent of centre managers reported stronger inquiries compared with just 18 per cent in the September quarter, according to Jones Lang LaSalle.

The Australian head of property management at Jones Lang LaSalle, Richard Fennell, said the headline finding in the survey was that "more centre managers reported an improvement in tenant inquiry as opposed to weak inquiry".

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