Mar 14, 2009
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H&M won't be hurt so much by global crisis

Mar 14, 2009

* Says crisis not to hurt very much

* Says H&M to open five stores in China this spring

* Says no plans for stores in India

(Adds background, quotes)

By Maria Kiselyova and Maria Plis

MOSCOW, March 12 (Reuters) - Swedish fashion giant Hennes & Mauritz (H&M) (HMb.ST) is likely to feel some effects from the global financial crisis but is doing better than some of its competitors, the company's top executive said on Thursday.

H&M collection spring-summer 2009

With retail sales across the globe plunging, many retailers face a bleak future. However, many analysts see the low retail prices at H&M as an advantage in poor economic conditions.

"I won't say it (the crisis) will help us, but we won't be hurt so much," Chief Executive Rolf Eriksen told Reuters in an interview in Moscow, where the company will open its first Russian store on Friday.

Eriksen, who steps down as CEO at the end of June, said H&M had done well in past downturns and he believed like-for-like sales would still be positive this year, despite the economic situation.

The Swedish retailer, the world's third-biggest clothing retailer by sales after No.1 Gap Inc (GPS.N) and Zara owner Inditex (ITX.MC), plans to open two more stores in Moscow this year and one in St Petersburg in 2010.

He also said that H&M plans to open five stores this spring in China, including two in Beijing, and another one in the autumn.

Eriksen said that unlike Spanish rival Inditex, H&M currently does not have plans to put stores in India.

"I believe that we will be there in the future but we don't have any plans at the moment," he said.

Inditex said in February that it had signed a deal with India's Tata Group conglomerate to open Zara stores in India from 2010. [nL5590526]

(Additional reporting by Anna Ringstrom in Stockholm; editing by Karen Foster)

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