H&M boss says new Riverside store in Norwich will help its expand customer base

Carlos Duarte UK and Ireland Country manager for H&M

Carlos Duarte UK and Ireland Country manager for H&M - Credit: Archant

The UK boss of retailer H&M said the firm is keen to expand its customer base with the opening of a new store in Norwich.

Speaking to the EDP, Carlos Duarte, UK and Ireland country manager for H&M, said the retailer, which has two stores in Chapelfield, including childrenswear, has spent several months looking for a new site in the city before opting for a two-storey building in Norwich's Riverside Retail Park.

The store, which has been refurbished, is due to open on Thursday, and Mr Duarte said the additional location would enable the business to offer a more extensive range of clothing to shoppers.

'We are keen to explore all possibilities for expansion and believe we will attract a different customer base who shop at Riverside, especially local residents who are looking for convenience and families with children as parking is easily accessible, plus of course the close proximity to the train station,' he said.

'The availability of attractive business locations such as the Riverside development in Norwich is the major deciding factor in our rate of expansion in the UK and Ireland.

'We already have two existing stores in Chapelfield, one of which has undergone an exciting makeover earlier this year, so we have invested heavily in Norwich and have a strong belief in the area. The new Riverside location will be a welcome addition to our portfolio and we hope it will be warmly received by residents.'

But he admitted that currently it was a difficult trading environment for retailers.

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'It is tough out there. However, we are a financially strong business with a long-term view. We believe investment and steady growth are the things that will make the difference.'

The move marks a revival of Norwich's Riverside and the creation of more than 100 jobs in the area as restaurant chain TGI Friday's is to open a new waterside restaurant in September at the former Squares site on the day the former Norwegian Blue site is set to open as a Coast to Coast US-themed restaurant.

Mr Duarte said that with H&M present in 49 global markets, the firm was committed to growing the business in a 'controlled way'.

'H&M's operations must be run in a way that is economically, environmentally and socially sustainable.

'However, we see ourselves as our own biggest competitor and we are continuously assessing ourselves against our previous performance and the objective is to always to surprise our customers and exceed their expectations of us.

'We see it as an advantage to be close to our main competitors. When there are several strong stores together as with Riverside, footfall in the area increases which is why location of our new stores is also considered.

'As a design-driven company – the focus is on design with more than 160 in-house designers and nearly 100 pattern-makers – we strive to offer the customer competitive design, customer focus, creativity and inspiration and sustainability.'