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Originally published August 10, 2007 at 12:00 AM | Page modified August 10, 2007 at 2:05 AM

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U Village to add trendy H&M

Guess what global retail giant is coming to town next year? Hint: It's trendy. It's cheap. It's Swedish. It's not Ikea. Fans of fashionable retailer...

Seattle Times business reporter

Guess what global retail giant is coming to town next year?

Hint: It's trendy. It's cheap. It's Swedish. It's not Ikea.

Fans of fashionable retailer H&M are used to making the pilgrimage to the Bay Area, Chicago or the company's flagship U.S. store on New York's Fifth Avenue, but they will likely find the same Euro-style garments in Seattle's University Village shopping center in the fall of 2008.

University Village spokeswoman Sarah Katsandres said construction on H&M's planned two-story location won't begin until after the first of the year. That's later than indicated on the retailing giant's fan-oriented Web page on MySpace, which said late last month that the store would open in the spring.

If the company follows its pattern of rapid proliferation in the Los Angeles and San Francisco Bay areas, more stores here could follow.

H&M will occupy a 18,000-square-foot space, slightly larger than Pottery Barn's University Village store.

"We're very excited," Katsandres said.

The company couldn't be reached for comment Thursday.

H&M (formally Hennes & Mauritz) has come a long way since its founding in Sweden in 1947. The company operates 1,400 stores in 28 countries, and last year had sales of $10.1 billion. Profits were $1.6 billion — almost doubling in five years.

The company changes its collections to follow the latest fashion trends, keeps tight inventories and sells high volumes at low prices.

This savvy approach to fashion has made H&M hugely popular. The company's MySpace page — www.myspace.com/hmusa — has 74,570 "friends."

The first H&M store in the U.S. opened in New York in 2000, but it took the brand a while to reach the West Coast. The first Los Angeles-area store opened in 2005, and now it has six in Southern California and seven in the San Francisco area.

As of late May, H&M had 129 U.S. locations.

Ángel González: 206-515-5644 or agonzalez@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company

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