Speculation is rampant among International Plaza merchants that five storefronts have been cleared out for trendy Swedish fast-fashion chain H&M to soon open its first store in the Tampa Bay area.
The vacated storefronts include Quiksilver, Body Shop, Toni Bijoux and Build-a-Bear, which is being moved to a new, smaller storefront in International Plaza.
Meanwhile, crews are tearing up the concrete pool that held an artificial surf machine at the closed Adrenalina store that backs up to the rear of the four empty storefronts.
The lineup is near H&M rival Forever XXI and almost below Zara, another fast-fashion merchant. H&M declined to comment on the rumors, and mall managers at Taubman Centers Inc. said they do not comment on store recruiting unless there is a signed lease.
Meanwhile, H&M TV spots have started running in the bay area cable market and the company, which has stores in Orlando and Palm Beach Garden, last month announced its first store in Miami Beach.
H&M is short for Hennes & Mauritz, a Stockholm chain with 2,200 stores, 200 of them in the United States. The chain has done collaborations with designers Sonia Rykiel, Karl Lagerfeld and Jimmy Choo.