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H&M to dress Sweden's Olympians in sportswear push

A shopper holds a clock as she walks in the cordoned-off area of a Swedish fashion giant H&M store in Stockholm November 23, 2010. REUTERS/J
A shopper holds a clock as she walks in the cordoned-off area of a Swedish fashion giant H&M store in Stockholm November 23, 2010. REUTERS/J

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - Fashion firm H&M will clothe Sweden's Olympic teams at the winter and summer games, bringing a global audience for a growing line of sportswear from a company best known for budget frocks and style accessories.

Hennes & Mauritz (H&M), the world's second-biggest apparel retailer after Zara owner Inditex, plans to expand its sports collection early next year to help broaden its offering and boost sales.

Olympics organizers say billions of people in over 200 countries watch the games. A team's kit can be as much a talking point as its success on track and field and can have an impact among viewers worldwide.

H&M said it would create outfits for the opening and closing ceremonies of the Winter Olympics and Paralympics in Sochi 2014, and the Summer Olympics and Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro 2016.

It will also provide outfits for leisure and training in the Olympic village in a deal signed with the Swedish Olympic committees, the company said in a statement.

The Swedish athletes will give input to H&M's expanded sports range and a selection of clothes designed for the Olympic teams will be sold in stores and online around the time of the games, a H&M spokeswoman said on Wednesday.

The Olympics have developed a tradition of attracting famous designers and apparel retailers.

At the 2012 London summer games, Ralph Lauren designed the U.S. team uniforms, while UK high street fashion retailer Next and designer Stella McCartney clothed the British team.

H&M already has connections with the sporting world, providing Czech tennis player Tomas Berdych with his on-court kit this year.

It plans to develop a tennis-wear collection with Berdych and has developed an underwear collection with British soccer star David Beckham.

(Reporting by Anna Ringstrom; Editing by Tom Pfeiffer)

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