Rumor has it (in fact, rather more than rumor) that Swedish retail giant H&M has amassed a mountain range of unsold stock and is looking at ways to offload it. Ultimately, price will probably be the arbiter of this one, but stores may also be useful (even if the stock hasn’t sold first time round).
Enter Afound, a market-like discount format from H&M that welcomed shoppers in Stockholm and the city of Malmo last week. The formula is relatively simple. Walk into Afound and you will find stock from Cos, Monki, H&M and Arket, among others, all of them H&M Fascias, and all of it at a discount price.
The idea that when it’s gone, it’s gone (something that H&M has probably been thinking about for some time now) underpins this one. Signs stating “Just In” [crossed through] Soon Gone” abound in an environment in which stock density is to the fore and price is almost everything.
This begs the question: why can’t this be done by reducing prices in any of the branded stores from which stock for these two shops has been taken? The answer is likely consumer boredom. Reduced lines can certainly be found in outlet centers and there are reductions aplenty in most regular stores, but there comes a point when shoppers are just bored by markdowns and perhaps all they wish for is a pristine full-price interior.
With this in mind, a shop in the city center that offers reductions from a brand is something different. It takes the pressure off the main branded stores and becomes a destination in its own right. Funny how sometimes the simplest things can appear radical. Expect to see more Afound stores soon. It has also launched online internationally.
John Ryan is a journalist covering the retail sector, a role he has fulfilled for more than a decade. As well as being the European Editor of VMSD magazine, he writes for a broad range of publications in the U.K., the U.S. and Germany with a focus on in-store marketing, display and layout, as well as the business of store architecture and design. In a previous life, he was a buyer for C&A, based in London and then Düsseldorf, Germany. He lives and works in London.