Swedish multinational clothing retail giant Hennes & Mauritz AB (H&M) plans to open its first store in Cambodia next year as part of its business expansion in the region, at a time when world economies are starting to emerge from Covid-19 crisis mode with accelerating coronavirus vaccine rollouts.

CEO Helena Helmersson said in the company’s first-half report: “With our much-appreciated collections, our ongoing transformation and the fact that markets are gradually being opened up, our recovery is strong.

“Online sales have continued to develop very well even as the stores have opened, which shows that customers appreciate the collections and being able to shop via their preferred channel.

“As more and more people are vaccinated and restrictions are eased, the world is gradually opening up and customers can once again visit our stores. With the combination of much-appreciated collections, rapid adaptation and further improvements, our recovery is strong.

“Despite continued restrictions, sales increased significantly compared with the previous year. The third quarter has started well and we are almost back at the level we were at before the pandemic.

“I am proud of all our colleagues’ commitment and drive during this challenging period. The crisis has made us even stronger as a company. The lessons we have learned are enabling us to be even better and faster at making the most of new opportunities, and we are optimistic about the future,” she said.

Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia secretary-general Ken Loo noted that H&M has been a long-term supporter of the Kingdom’s export-oriented garment industry and would continue to be so for many more years to come, as long as the country is able to maintain and improve its competitiveness.

“As a brand-contracted manufacturer, Cambodia has offered a safe sourcing destination for their worldwide stores in term of labour compliance.

“As for the store opening in Cambodia, it signifies strong economic growth with increased domestic consumption by local Cambodians. It would also help improve the state of fashion in the country, particularly for young generation,” he said.

In the second quarter of this year, ended May 31, the H&M group posted a 75 per cent year-on-year increase in net sales in local currencies, which it noted was 62 per cent converted to the Swedish krona, due to the currency’s appreciation, amounting to 46.509 billion ($5.4 billion).

In the June 1-13 period, the company logged a 35 per cent year-on-year surge in sales, which was up by two per cent over the same time in 2019.

“Most markets in the H&M group are still subject to restrictions and on 13 June around 180 stores were temporarily closed; all 50 stores in Malaysia, for example, had to close at the beginning of the month,” it said in a statement.