Fashion conglomerate Ralph Lauren aims to open about 60 new luxury stores across China over the next three years, after about 95 retail shops were closed in the market as part of a restructuring in the fiscal year to March.
The New York-based company, founded in 1967 by fashion designer Ralph Lauren, estimates that about a third of its US$360 million budget for capital spending in the current fiscal year will go to building its Asia-Pacific retail distribution network.
Most of that regional expenditure will be used to develop new stores on the mainland and in Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan.
'We are in the midst of transforming our presence in China, a region that we believe will become an important driver of growth for us over the long term,' said Lauren, the chairman and chief executive.
He said the company, which posted global revenue of US$6.9 billion in its last fiscal year, has 'some magnificent new stores planned for the next several years' in China. Ralph Lauren's repositioning efforts in China started in December 2009, when it completed the acquisition of certain assets, including inventory, from Hong Kong-listed Dickson Concepts (International) and affiliates for US$20 million and other undisclosed considerations.
Dickson was the company's licensee for Polo-branded clothing in what was conceived as a larger 'Southeast Asia region' business, which comprised the mainland, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand.
Ralph Lauren president and chief operating officer Roger Farah said 15 of the planned new stores in China are due to open between October this year and March next year 'across many of the major cities, including Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong'.
Farah added the shops would be 'in premier locations and adjacent to the world's leading luxury brands'.
A report from CLSA Asia-Pacific Markets in February forecast the mainland would become the world's largest domestic market for luxury goods - worth Euro74 billion (HK$753 billion), or 0.6 per cent of the country's total gross domestic product - over the next decade.