The parent company of Zara is the one that has closed the most stores, although it also opened the most in this period. H&M, on the other hand, closed only 488, although it has accelerated its reorganization in the last years.
Retail apocalypse also hovers over the giants of fashion distribution. With ecommerce growth and the transformation of consumer habits, all the major groups in the sector have been immersed in a reordering, albeit at different speeds, their commercial network, which has meant closures and refurbishings around the globe. In this context, since 2012, Inditex, H&M and Gap have shut more than 3,000 points of sale, although the net balance of openings is positive.
Specifically, as recorded in the annual reports of each company, three of the largest groups in the sector have closed 3,134 establishments in the last seven years, although they have also opened another eight thousand stores around the world. The largest restructuring of its commercial network has been led by Inditex, with the closure of 1,401 stores since 2012. The company undertook that year a reorganization plan for its store network to bet on less but bigger flagships.
In this sense, the company has opened another 3,364 points of sale and has undertaken many other extensions and refurbishings. In fact, the group’s establishments now have an average area 39% higher than in 2012. “The smaller stores were useful at the time, but now we are going for higher quality spaces that allow us to improve the customer experience and omnichannel integration”, explained Pablo Isla, president of the group, in the last results presentation.
H&M was late to retail reorganization: it didn’t begin to accelerate closings until 2018
This plan responds to the group’s commitment to develop an integrated model, with which it foresees, among other things, selling worldwide through the online channel 2020 and in which stores play a key role as delivery and collection points.
H&M, however, has come later to this retail transformation. In fact, between 2012 and 2017 the company emphasized in each annual report that its objective was to expand its number of stores between 10% and 15% each year. In this sense, the Swedish company just closed 488 establishments between 2012 and 2018.
The first symptom of change in the strategy did not arrive until December 2017, when the company announced an “optimization” plan of the network of stores of its main chain . The project included, as the company explained then, the “integration of physical and digital stores”, as well as the “intensification of the optimization of the H&M store network”, which will result in “more closures and fewer openings”.
H&M went from closing less than fifty stores in 2012, 2013 and 2014, excluding franchises, to close 91 in 2017 and another 143 in 2018. For the current year, the company plans to close 160 stores and open another 335. In Europe, in particular, the company stressed that it will close more stores than it will open, resulting in fifty fewer stores at the end of the year.
Gap, on the other hand, is today the one with fewer stores ee, with 3,666 monobrand points of sale at the end of 2018, compared to 4,968 of H&M (including all brands) and 7,490 of Inditex. The company that used to be number one in the world in the sector has been restruturing for more years than its rivals, and has closed 1,256 stores since 2012. Gap is also the one that less net openings has made in this period, with 403 stores more, compared to the 1,481 of Inditex and the 2,192 of H&M.