Footwear is already an important category in Zara and other outlets run by Inditex, and the products are said to be of good quality, with a good portion still manufactured in Spain. Inditex’ main competitor, Hannes & Mauritz, is now muscling into the footwear business by opening full-fledged shoe corners in 200 of its stores from next spring.

The Swedish-based fashion retailer currently sells just a small range of women’s footwear and men’s thong sandals, but it has teamed up with two Swedish footwear design consultants to expand the assortment, albeit sticking to women’s footwear. They are Claes Höglund and Tomas Hedenquist from Into Design, who previously worked on comparable projects for Wedins, the big Swedish retailer.

The wider ranges will be introduced in selected stores in all the national markets where H&M operates. The concept should be expanded at a later stage to more of H&M’s 1,244 outlets throughout Europe and North America at the end of May. The new footwear development program was unveiled by the Swedish retailer as it announced sales of 37,655 million Swedish kronor (€4,092m-$5,238m) for the six months ended on May 31, up by more than 14 percent from the previous year. At the same time H&M announced plans to open its first stores in China next year, and to launch a new slightly more upmarket banner for men and women’s lifestyle clothing.