Guess joins the queue as labels spread their wares through China

The Los Angeles-based apparel maker Guess has become the latest international brand to announce massive plans for expansion into mainland China as the company targets building a US$1 billion overall market in the region.

Guess currently has 113 retail outlets across China and has plans to open 40 more this year. But the overall goal is to have that number reaching 500 within five years, according to the company.

"At any meaningful mall that you visit, you will find a Guess store," Guess chief executive Paul Marciano told a conference call with Asian garment industry analysts.

Guess is targeting its "lifestyle collection" of denim garments, handbags, watches and footwear at China's ever-growing luxury goods market, one which industry insiders expect to be worth more than 84 billion yuan (13 billion dollars) this year - making it the second largest in the world after the United States.

Guess currently operates 490 retail stores in North America and 218 throughout Europe, Asia and Latin America combined. There are also 757 licensees and distributors operating under the Guess banner across the globe.

Guess says for the first six months of the year sales of its goods in Asia rose 27.1 percent - to US$115.4 million - on the back of the business it is doing in China and also in South Korea, specifically.

Those are the sorts of figures that are increasingly luring international brands towards the Chinese consumer. British fashion label Burberry earlier this year opened a massive flagship store in Beijing and at the same time announced plans to expand operations from 57 stores to more than 100 within five years, while the likes of Hermès have gone one step further and established its own China-specific brand, as the French-company did last year with the Shang Xia label.

US-apparel maker Abercrombie & Fitch is also soon to enter the fray by opening its first outlet in Hong Kong, where it hopes to tap into the soaring Chinese tourism market. The shop will be situated right in the heart of the Central shopping district, where Chinese visitors account for 30 percent of annual retail spending, and will open at the start of 2012.

MS

 

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