Global fashion giant H&M to source clothes from Kenya

A H&M logo
A H&M logo. The retailer’s bulk of shops are located in Europe. PHOTO/FILE
Hennes & Mauritz, the world’s second largest fashion retailer, has signed contracts with Kenyan factories to make clothes under the H&M brand as it seeks to stock its 3,000 stores in 53 countries.

Helena Helmersson, H&M’s head of sustainability, told Reuters on Tuesday that H&M will start producing more clothes in sub-Saharan Africa and has already placed orders in Ethiopia and Kenya.

“We want to expand. It is not about moving capacity from Bangladesh or China,” Helmersson said.

H&M outsources production to 800 factories in Asia and Europe. The company has over the years taken advantage of low-cost production locations such as China and Bangladesh to cement its position as a world leading fashion house.

H&M, whose bulk of shops are located in Europe, has outlets in Egypt and there are plans to open stores in South Africa by 2015.

The retailer’s entry into the Kenyan fashion market is expected to aid local clothing manufacturers who are currently struggling to get by amid an influx of cheaper imports from Asia.

The local textile industry has only 15 mills currently operating at a capacity of about 40 percent. These include Spin Knit, Thika Clothes Mills, Nakuru Industries, Bedi Investment and Sunflag. The millers exported garments worth Sh28.4 billion in 2013 compared with Sh25.1 billion a year earlier.