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H&M: Now there will be three

Cheap chic fashionistas yearned for years for H&M to open a store in the Tampa Bay area. By year's end, there will be three.

The trendy Swedish apparel retailer plans to open new sprawling stores by late fall at Tyrone Square Mall in St. Petersburg and WestShore Plaza in Tampa. Meanwhile, in response to the first H&M that opened in November in International Plaza, rival Forever 21 Inc. plans to expand its flagship Forever XXI store located across the hall.

Both specialize in what's called disposable fashion: inexpensive designer duds and designer-inspired knockoffs, and accessories made not to last too long.

At Tyrone, Simon Property Group has been clearing a six-storefront space since the holidays for H&M that stretches from the former J. Jill to Cotton On. WestShore Plaza managers are carving out 20,000 square feet for H&M between the former Pants Towne next to JCPenney to the mall management office near the entrance to Saks Fifth Avenue.

While it is surprising that H&M would open two stores in Tampa within 2 miles of each other, it's not unprecedented for a chain that claims to be the world's second-largest apparel chain behind the Spanish parent of Zara. Short for Hennes & Mauritz, H&M runs 2,300 stores in 43 countries and since 2000 has opened 233 in the United States, which is its second-biggest market behind Germany.

H&M, meanwhile, has posted its first Super Bowl TV ad on YouTube. That's for those who prefer not to wait to see the steamy spot of soccer star David Beckham modeling a pair of $14.95 men's briefs from the new Beckham Bodywear line that debuts Thursday.

Mark Albright can be reached at albright@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8252.

H&M: Now there will be three 01/31/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, January 31, 2012 11:02pm]

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