The FINANCIAL -- “We have been investigating the Georgian market for quite a long time and we thought that it was the perfect time now,” Claudia Oszwald, Regional Manager of H&M, one of the world’s largest fashion retailers, told The FINANCIAL.
An agreement between Georgian Co-Investment Fund’s (GCF) subsidiary Tbilisi Plaza LLC and H&M (Hennes & Mauritz AB) to open a store in Tbilisi was signed last year.
Galleria Tbilisi is one of Georgian Co-Investment Fund’s (“GCF”) ongoing investment projects in the hospitality and real estate sector, with a total investment size of USD 80 mln.
H&M is the first retailer with which the agreement was reached.
“The aim and wish of Georgian customers to have H&M in their country was very important to us. We found the perfect location here, as the location is always of key importance. In Galleria Tbilisi I think we have the best store in Tbilisi,” said Oszwald.
“There is a lot of potential when it comes to people who love fashion and there are many fashion lovers in Georgia, customers who were waiting for H&M to bring the best quality and fashion with the best prices in a sustainable way, which is a great idea.
I think we have almost the perfect size store in Galleria Tbilisi. We have the whole assortment here, beginning with kids, the tiny baby collection, to ladies and men,” Oszwald told The FINANCIAL.
The H&M online store is today available in 44 markets. Uruguay and Ukraine are set to become new H&M store markets in 2018.
The company said that for the full-year 2017, approximately 475 new physical stores are planned to open, with the focus primarily on growing markets. Most of the new stores in 2017 will be H&M stores, while approximately 70 will consist of the newer brands COS, & Other Stories, Monki, Weekday and ARKET.
“We always have a certain campaign while entering new markets. While entering Georgia we presented the Fall Fashion campaign; a fantastic campaign with some of the top global models including Naomi Campbell,” said Danilo Drobnjak, Head of Communications and Marketing at H&M Austria, Adriatic, West Balkans and Georgia.
“When we are entering a market it is a very complex procedure when it comes to the marketing. We plan how we want to give the first impression to our future customers and in the case of Georgia we acted the same way. It’s important that they feel this H&M energy and the way H&M is arriving on the market.”
“As you know, we are quite a good presence in Tbilisi. We have a couple of formats where we dominate, like the building of the old post office which we wrapped with H&M campaign posters and also banners in the streets of Tbilisi with the Fall Fashion campaign I mentioned. Once we enter a market then we have our regular procedure of campaigns, which we have several of during the year. Georgia will be no exception and H&M will provide different campaigns here.”
“Of course we have our very high standard global procedures but we always investigate local cultural aspects, relevant to the country where we enter. We have this beautiful logo in Georgia of H&M, which a lot of people welcomed. That’s because we want to show that we truly respect the local culture and local language. We always combine the local culture and local habits with global procedures,” said Drobnjak.
“In general we try to give the best offer to our customers in different markets. We try to keep the same price levels in all countries. There are small differences due to taxes; VAT is different in several counties. They are small differences but we keep the same prices overall,” said Oszwald.
“We think that fashion is global. We see a lot of very fashionable men and women here in Tbilisi’s streets, which is super. I don’t see any specifics in terms of the level of fashion among people here in Georgia or in other countries. There is no difference in the fashion level here in Georgia or in Germany or any other country.”