Hong Kong-based international fashion retailer Esprit Holdings yesterday revealed an ambitious expansion plan for Europe aimed at almost doubling its turnover and the number of outlets within the next five years in the region. The company, which is listed in Hong Kong, also intends to apply for a secondary listing on the London Stock Exchange in order to raise its profile in Europe, where it chalked up 62 per cent of sales in the year to June 30. Esprit's chief executive officer for Europe Heinz Juergen Krognar-Kornalik forecast the number of outlets on the continent would rise from 710 to 1,200 in the next five years. 'I think we can do it easily,' Mr Krognar-Kornalik said. Funding for such an expansion should also be possible from existing resources, he said. The bulk of the group's operations were in wholesale services, with the risk of most of the outlets borne by local partners. About 70 per cent of the group's European sales of 740 million deutschemarks (about HK$3.48 billion) came from Germany, and the group also had a sizeable presence in the Netherlands and Belgium. Esprit was keen to expand further in France and Scandinavia, and was seeking a partner to re-establish its presence in Britain. European turnover had increased 14 per cent in the year to June 30, despite a 3 per cent decline for the retail industry as a whole. Consumer confidence was expected to fall further in the coming year, but Mr Krognar-Kornalik said this represented a big opportunity for the group to expand its presence. The London listing comes after the company has long complained that its share valuation in Hong Kong had failed to take into account its high-turnover European operations. The group said Esprit's stock had been valued like other Hong Kong fashion retail stocks, and had in the past been trading at less than 10 times its prospective price-earnings ratio. Mr Krognar-Kornalik said a London listing was a logical step after Esprit Europe and Esprit Asia merged two years ago. 'It will reflect the real structure of the business . . . and London is the biggest and most international stock exchange in Europe.' He said the group, which was being advised by ABN Amro Rothschild, had no plans to raise any funds. The listing was aimed more at introducing the company to prospective shareholders. 'By listing here, people will recognise that we are not just an Asian company,' Mr Krognar-Kornalik said. The move came as the firm said it still expected to increase its presence in Asia, despite the regional financial crisis. Mr Krognar-Kornalik said he did not expect Europe's turnover as a proportion of the group's to increase as a result of the expansion plans on the continent. He conceded it had largely pulled out of South Korea, and had ended its joint venture in Japan with Taka-Q as a result of the downturn in the economy. 'At the moment we just want to pull out of Japan.'