THE rosy outlook in Asian retail markets will ensure they remain a key element in Gucci's global activities, says its chairman William Flanz. Mr Flanz, in Hong Kong yesterday to host a Gucci fashion preview, said the territory's market had performed particularly well, even during the slump the company experienced in the early 1990s. Hong Kong had a five to 10 per cent share of Gucci's global market this year, with Japan retaining the top Asia spot for sales. Mr Flanz was confident of the prospect of brand names in Hong Kong. 'Shopping and retailing are always important in a sophisticated city like Hong Kong,' he said, adding that another retailing outlet could open in Hong Kong next year despite the company's strict controls on the number of retailers. Sales in Hong Kong this year had been well ahead of the target of 20 per cent growth over last year, he said. Global sales of Gucci products were shared equally between three main markets - Asia; the United States and Latin America; and Europe and the Middle East. 'The company will expect uniform growth of these three market areas,' he said. While keeping a watch on the market in China, Gucci has no plans to launch its fashion and leather goods there, yet. 'But it's only a matter of time before we can do business with the people of China,' Mr Flanz said. He dismissed the possibility of the company setting up factories in China or other places with lower labour costs. 'I think the cost of the workers in Italy is reasonable compared with their quality,' he said. Gucci had achieved a more than 20 per cent rise in sales and profits this year after managing to break even last year, Mr Flanz said.