Corneliani to ramp up its presence in China

The high-end Italian men's label Corneliani plans to open four additional boutiques in China over the next several weeks, bumping its total number of stores on the Mainland to 17 by year-end. Corneliani has opened six retail outlets in the country just this past year alone.

On October 1, the menswear company unveiled a 525-square-foot store in Shanghai's Times Square Mall on Huaihai Zhong Road, a top shopping destination for wealthy Shanghainese. By the end of November, Corneliani will debut two other locations: a 394-square-foot store in the Starlight 68 Mall in Chonqing Province and another in Changzhou's Changzhou Shopping Centre in the Jiangsu Province. Two additional standalone stores are slated for December in the Heyi Avenue Mall in Ningbo and the new Van's Department Store in Hefei.

Women's Wear Daily reports that all the stores in the pipeline will be modeled after Corneliani's flagship on Via Montenapoleone in Milan, Italy. This means they will all be designed by Sergio Corneliani, the company's creative director, along with architects Studio di Architettura Ponti and be outfitted with Tanganyika wood, luxe leather and grey marble floors.

Corneliani opened a Shanghai office in 2008 to tap into the burgeoning Chinese luxury goods market. China, the world's second largest luxury goods market, is expected to exceed the US to become the biggest market in the next five years. According to a recent study by Bain & Co., the luxury market in Mainland China has risen 30 percent so far in 2010 to $12.8 billion. Maurizio Corneliani, the company's finance director, told Women's Wear Daily that he has observed an "increasing number of Chinese luxury consumers so fascinated by Made in Italy."

Indeed, more and more luxury Italian brands are expanding eastward, thanks to the rising disposable incomes of Chinese as well as their penchant for designer brands and other status symbols. Ermenegildo Zegna, chief executive officer of the brand of the same name, told Women's Wear Daily on November 2 that China now comprises one fourth of the company's sales, and within 15 years, may make up almost 50 percent. There are currently 62 Ermenegildo Zegna operating in the country.

Meanwhile, Salvatore Ferragamo intends to open seven to nine stores in lower-tier Chinese cities in 2011. The Florence-based Italian company, whose shoes have been worn by Marilyn Monroe, Greta Garbo and Jennifer Lopez, currently operates 50 stores in 32 mainland cities in China. Chief Executive Michele Norsa told Reuters in a recent interview that Greater China was the number one market for the company according to growth potential.

Prior to the four new Corneliani store openings, check the company's website for the addresses of its 13 exisiting stores in China: