H&M launches U.S. online sales after delays

STOCKHOLM Thu Aug 1, 2013 8:27am BST

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STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - Budget fashion retailer Hennes & Mauritz (HMb.ST) on Thursday launched e-commerce in the United States after a string of delays, setting up shop in the world's biggest online market.

H&M has grown fast in recent years in the country, it's second-biggest market, but has twice pulled back from announced online launch dates, blaming unexpected complexities in setting up an operation well integrated with its stores.

Meanwhile, biggest rival Inditex (ITX.MC) and others such as online e-store ASOS (ASOS.L) have expanded in the market while Amazon (AMZN.O) is pushing to expand further into apparel after EBay's (EBAY.O) fashion offering met with success.

"We have gone live today," said Nils Vinge, head of investor relations at Swedish H&M, the world's second-biggest fashion retailer after Inditex.

Apparel has become one of the fastest-growing online markets. With more and more shoppers buying clothes from home, H&M now plans to speed up online roll-out to capture a slice of the market, rolling out in several countries per year from 2014 on.

Before opening in the United States, the group's core H&M chain had online stores in 8 of its 49 markets, all in Europe.

(Reporting by Anna Ringstrom; editing by Niklas Pollard)

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