Zara overtakes H&M to be Europe’s second-largest apparel retailer

NIKE is still the leading apparel group in Europe, having previously overtaken H&M in 2022. The sportswear giant has a 2.8% market share, up 0.1ppts since the prior year and still slightly ahead of Zara.

GlobalData’s Apparel Market in Europe to 2027 report suggested Nike benefitted from a downturn at adidas, which continues to be plagued by the abrupt end of its Yeezy partnership and is struggling to compete with rivals including both Nike and Puma.

Zara also managed to overtake H&M in 2023 and is now only slightly behind Nike. In the nine months to October 2023, Zara’s global sales grew 11.4%, attributed to its design credentials and wide appeal. GlobalData’s report added the retailer could move into first place in 2024, given this upward trajectory.

H&M reported a disappointing 2023, falling to third place in the European apparel market. GlobalData said its price points should be attracting consumers in a period of ongoing inflation, however it argued lacklustre designs at the retail group have driven sales towards rivals Primark and Shein.

Shein gained the most market share in 2023, rising 0.4ppts to 1.8%, up from just 1% in 2021, thanks to its affordable price points and appeal amongst Generation Z.

Associated British Foods-owned Primark had the largest share growth between 2021 and 2023, growing 0.4ppts. However, GlobalData said this was largely driven by store expansion rather than organic growth as the value retailer increased its presence in eastern Europe.

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By GlobalData

Primark’s physical store-only model meant it was unable to compete with online fashion brands and retailers during the pandemic, however in September 2023 the retailer launched a click-and-collect offer for its womenswear collection for the first time.

Overall, the European apparel market is expected to increase at a CAGR of 3.6% between 2022 and 2027, reaching a total of €576.3bn. High inflation is expected to have slowed growth to just 4.4% in 2023.

The UK is expected to overtake Germany as Europe’s largest apparel market in Europe by 2027, although the strongest growth is expected in Eastern European countries thanks to their rapidly growing economies.

The report suggested the online apparel market in Europe grew by 3% in 2023, which was slightly less than offline. However, online apparel is expected to outperform physical stores in 2024, driven by advancing online capabilities in emerging Eastern European markets and consumer preference for the convenience and choice that is available online.

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