When it comes to the China market, aim high. Boby Chan Yum-kit did that in 1997 when he founded the fashion retail chain Moiselle. In the past five years the retailer has grown to a combined 58 outlets in Hong Kong and the mainland, with an annual turnover of more than HK$200 million. The company listed on Hong Kong's main board last February, raising HK$57 million net from the issue of 70 million HK$1 shares to fund expansion in the mainland and Taiwan. The road to success has not been easy, says Mr Chan, who is chairman and managing director of Moiselle International Holdings. The big challenge in developing the mainland retail network is to clear a series of legal hurdles that restrict foreign investment. Foreign brands looking to enter the retail market must have some manufacturing investment in the mainland, either in the form of a joint venture or a wholly foreign-owned enterprise. Complying with the rules was not a major problem for Moiselle because the group already owned a textile factory on the mainland that engaged in original equipment manufacturing for foreign fashion labels. But newcomers to the mainland will have to face the legal requirement, says Mr Chan, who will be describing his experiences in detail at the seminar, 'Successful Branding in Chinese Mainland', on Thursday at 3pm in room 201A. 'Be fully aware of legal compliance issues,' Mr Chan says. 'You must have a factory in China, for example a joint venture, if you want to do domestic wholesale. It is difficult to do it yourself. A lot of the contract law issues, and the tax system, is very difficult.' Under the rules, foreign fashion brands that wish to engage in wholesaling or retailing must have some manufacturing investment on the mainland. Mr Chan says he entered the mainland under a series of franchise agreements in order to leverage the market knowledge and savvy of local players. Moiselle has 28 mainland retail outlets, and plans to add 12 more this year. The shops are in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangdong and Shenzhen. Growth is partly the result of franchising, as mainlanders clamour for foreign brands, especially labels that provide European designs at affordable prices. Mr Chan noticed the shift a year ago, during a business trip to drum up wholesale business. He was impressed by the overwhelming interest shown in franchise partnerships. 'Many mainlanders enquire about setting up franchisee relationships,' Mr Chan says. 'But we have to choose the partners very carefully. Most of them do not have any retailing experience. We want to find partners with experience in fashion. 'In China now, the business is changing a lot. There are many well-financed business groups that want to get involved in branded retailing.' Moiselle is a middle to high-end retailer of women's fashion, specialising in executive, mix-and-match and evening wear. Moiselle's strategy is to turn out quickly the latest European trends. It releases more than 800 new styles a year, roughly 30 to 50 new styles per week. Looking ahead, Mr Chan says the mainland market has a long way to grow. 'They need higher products,' he says. 'We have a lot of the market yet to expose.'