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Swedish retailer H&M expresses interest in Valley sites for stores

LAS VEGAS -Fast-fashion retailer H&M has signed a letter of intent to open a store at Tempe Marketplace and is pursuing locations at other Valley shopping centers, as well.

Although the agreement does not mean the deal is final, it does signal that the Swedish retailer is becoming more serious about opening its first location in Arizona.

H&M, which stand for Hennes & Mauritz, is also talking to Westcor, the Valley’s largest mall developer and owner, about a number of locations but is most interested in Scottsdale.

H&M, which has become the international king of so-called fast fashion by selling stylish, inexpensive clothes and accessories, would not comment Monday about any of its plans for the Valley.

“While our real estate department has been in the area looking at possible store sites, we are not able to speculate on when/where we will enter a market,” Lisa Sandberg, a New York-based spokeswoman, wrote in an e-mail.

David Malin, a project manager for Phoenix-based Vestar Development Co., the company that is building Tempe Marketplace, said Monday that the retailer signed a letter of intent a couple of weeks ago to locate there.

Malin would not comment further about the deal, and it was unclear Monday when H&M would sign a lease.

Stacy Pearson, a Vestar spokeswoman, called the letter of intent “the first step of negotiations.” H&M has been listed among the retailers on Vestar’s site plans for Tempe Marketplace, a shopping center that will open this fall at Loops 101 and 202.

At a national retail convention Monday in Las Vegas, H&M was not featured on a 3-D model of Tempe Marketplace. But Malin did point out a space that Vestar is reserving for the retailer.

Meanwhile, H&M has not signed a similar letter of intent to locate at Fashion Square or any other Westcor property, Williams said.

Discussions are continuing, however. H&M apparently is having trouble finding a big enough space at the Scottsdale mall, but a makeover of the center’s eastern side, which will include a Barneys New York, may give it enough room to locate there, Williams said.

H&M also is looking at possible locations at Chandler Fashion Center, Arrowhead Town Center, SanTan Village in Gilbert and Estrella Falls, a regional mall in the development phase in Goodyear, he added.

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