Since launching in South Africa in October 2015, H&M has become a dominant force in the local clothing retail industry. The Swedish chain has proved to be fierce competition for its SA counterparts, expanding its footprint rapidly and occupying flagship status in some of the country's key malls.
But it hasn't all been smooth sailing. H&M and Zara, both fast-growing international entrants into the local market, have repeatedly come under pressure from Government and various industry stakeholders to incorporate local suppliers into their procurement policy. As it stands, neither of them source any of their products from SA.
But this could soon change, at least for H&M. The Swedish retailer will reportedly be sending "a procurement team to South Africa within the next few weeks to visit potential local suppliers", Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel told MPs while tabling his department’s Budget in Parliament on Thursday.
The move is a response to a proposal from Patel's department for H&M to consider buying goods locally as part of its apology for the "coolest monkey in the jungle” advert that was accused of racial insensitivity earlier this year. The advert caused a stir on social media and escalated into public demonstrations of outrage in South Africa, resulting in the trashing of local stores and suspension of trade.
Patel said the brand needed to do more to rehabilitate its image. “When we engaged H&M in the weeks that followed, we noted that they imported everything in store. Following their apology and as part of reorienting the H&M worldview of Africa, we have proposed that they atone very practically by sourcing goods from South Africa,” he explained.
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