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H&M Looks to Produce in Sub-Saharan Africa

Swedish retailer Hennes & Mauritz (H&M) has its eye on Sub-Saharan Africa for future production, a move that would complement the company’s production in Bangladesh, China and Cambodia, the company said Wednesday.

Africa could become a necessary complement to production as wage disputes and election-related violence have roiled Bangladesh’s garment industry and conditions in Cambodia have been little better as the country’s garment workers protest, at times shuttering factories, in the battle for a better minimum wage.

H&M CEO Karl-Johan Persson told Swedish daily Dagens Industri that Africa is H&M’s future continent.

“I think there is a huge potential in sub-Saharan Africa in terms of production,” Persson told the paper. “We have started production on a small scale in Ethiopia and will see how it goes. It’s very interesting.” The retailer has also started production in Kenya and is looking to move into more countries in the region.

The Swedish government recently agreed to strengthen its contribution to the World Bank’s fund for low and middle-income countries to enhance prospects for continued growth in Sub-Saharan Africa and has touted the area for its great development potential.

H&M will open its first store on the continent in South Africa next year and Persson said the plan is to open even more stores in the area, Dagens Industri reported.

“Africa is a continent where many countries are growing very quickly, where there is a growing middle class and eventually a huge potential for sales,” Persson said.