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The Swedish fashion group H&M has opened preliminary negotiations with four of Israel's most powerful business groups ahead of possibly opening outlets of its low-cost chain in Israel. The five-man management team visiting Israel has been talking with leaders of Nochi Dankner's Super-Sol chain, the Sakal group, and reportedly with representatives of businessman Eliezer Fishman and of Dudi Wiessman's Dor-Alon group.

Motti Ish-Shalom, Israel's economic attache to Sweden and the man who has driven H&M's interest in Israel, also took part in the meetings.

The H&M management hasn't made any final decisions about its intentions regarding Israel. The group is looking at procurement from Israeli companies, of items such as cosmetics, bathing suits and underwear, among other things, and possibly opening local stores too. Sources in the retail sector predict that if H&M decides to go ahead, the first stores could open in about a year and a half.

H&M is a global chain that makes about $15 billion a year in revenues from its 1,500 outlets in some 30 countries.