Hennes & Mauritz AB, more commonly known as H&M, is coming to Francis Scott Key Mall this fall.
The Swedish store in the Frederick mall will be the first H&M store in Frederick County. There are currently 10 H&M locations in Maryland, according to the company’s website.
The new store will take up roughly 20,000 square feet, making it slightly larger than the DSW shoe store currently at the mall, which is 17,500 square feet, according to the mall’s leasing department website.
H&M at FSK Mall will include clothing for women, men and children, with specialty sections dedicated to maternity, plus-sized and accessories, according to a news release.
An opening date for the store, which will employ about 30 people, has not been determined beyond fall 2016, according to Molly Brown, a spokeswoman for H&M.
The location of the H&M store inside FSK Mall has yet to be announced as well. Brown wrote in an email she could not confirm what space the store would occupy.
Ashlyn Delson, a spokeswoman for the Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust, which oversees the mall, told The Frederick News-Post on Wednesday to contact H&M for questions about the store’s location.
In an email Monday, Delson wrote, “We are thrilled to welcome H&M to Francis Scott Key Mall, where we know our shoppers there will be happy to have them joining our tenant roster.”
“We see them as an ideal partner whose blend of high-quality yet affordable fashion will make a great addition to the Frederick community,” she added.
According to Frederick County permit records, the county issued a nonresidential building permit Feb. 18 for work to be done in Suite 432 at FSK Mall for the new H&M store.
A prior permit submitted to the county by a different tenant in August 2015 to alter the space listed Crazy 8 as the previous occupant, the records state.
The children’s clothing store Crazy 8 sat between The Children’s Place and Express near Macy’s, according to a 2013 FSK Mall directory. Crazy 8 has since left the mall, along with Express and the nearby Gap, leaving a row of store space with darkened windows from The Children’s Place to Men’s Wearhouse.
Mina Magsino, manager at Men’s Wearhouse, and sales associate Sabrina Dove said they heard the H&M store would occupy the space adjacent to their store, which neighbors Macy’s. They said they knew of the H&M store for months, even before the nearby Express and Gap closed in late January.
“I’m pretty excited,” Dove said, noting she is a fan of the retailer.
The two said the closing of Express and Gap has led to some concern. Magsino said she has answered calls from clients asking if Men’s Wearhouse and FSK Mall are still open, citing rumors the Frederick mall had shuttered its doors for good.
“It makes us a little nervous,” Magsino said.
Chong Son Rydzewski, store manager at Pearle Vision, which is opposite Men’s Wearhouse, said she had not heard about the new H&M store coming, but voiced her excitement and love for the store.
She added that having the store near Pearle Vision would be beneficial to the surrounding businesses, bringing more foot traffic and exposure to that end of the mall, which is anchored by Macy’s.
H&M’s announcement to open a Frederick store comes after the Swedish retailer opened roughly 400 stores in the last year to reach 3,958 stores worldwide in January, up from 3,541 total stores the previous year, according to a January news release.
The retailer’s recent rise seems to buck the current trend of large retailers such as Kohl’s, J.C. Penney and Sears closing stores across the nation, many after serving as the anchor tenants of malls for years.
“In an industry like that, here is a company, H&M, that is showing great potential and they are expanding,” said Anita Jose, who teaches corporate strategies at Hood College in Frederick.
Jose described H&M’s growth as remarkable, noting its mantra of “fashion and quality for the best price in a sustainable way” most likely contributed to its success, she said.
“People are buying into that value proposition, and that’s why they are growing,” Jose added.
H&M, which brands itself as a fashion-forward, affordable retailer, is geared primarily toward women ages 16 to 25, said Jerry Van Winter, a marketing professor at Hood College in Frederick.
Van Winter said he believes the new H&M store will bring more foot traffic and attract younger shoppers at a time when malls are struggling and online shopping is rising in popularity.
“Malls are doing terrible across the country,” Van Winter said. “A lot are closing down, like Frederick Towne Mall, and they’re not sure what to build. ... The only malls doing well are ones that sell luxury brands and the other ones that are offering value brands like H&M.”
Cailey Locklair Tolle, president of the Maryland Retailers Association, said in an email that the retail industry has become “more competitive than ever” as more consumers turn to online shopping.
“Consumer spending habits are changing and the retail industry has seen a massive boom in online sales which have impacted brick and mortar stores in an unprecedented way,” she wrote.
Having a H&M store in Frederick is “a positive thing,” Van Winter said, adding that “in order to locate here, they must have seen something they really liked about Frederick.”
Brown, a spokeswoman for H&M, wrote in an email, “H&M looks to open new stores in the best location under the best business conditions.”