Tuesday, 8 December 2009

The place to be seen

So it seems the latest fashion trend is not an "it" item but an "it" continent. Fashionista has been hearing of more and more retailers continuing their expansions into Asia.

On 3 November 2009, Drapers reported that Lulu Guiness had formed a 50:50 joint venture with First Eastern to expand the brand into Asia and on 27 November 2009, Retail Week announced that Cath Kidston had begun the search for an investment partner with local expertise as it too ramps up its international presence. Louis Vuitton has also been getting in on the act with reports in Drapers on 4 December 2009 of the opening in Macau's One Central retail and residential development as part of its planned expansion and Drapers reported that Debenhams is to open its first store in Vietnam as part of its expansion plans.

Fashionista hopes that these retailers are getting good advice as it can be difficult getting to grips with the local requirements of a new country. In most parts of Asia, like many other countries, the only way to set up a business is to find a local partner and set up business as a joint venture. Clearly, finding the right partner is key as there will be a number of areas in which you will have to depend upon your partner and, as in all relationships, trust therefore plays a vital role.

Its hardly surprising that when the economy at home becomes challenging that international expansion (particularly into emerging markets) becomes a key focus. Fashionista's bedtime has reading is the Global Retail Development Index 2009 which is published annually by ATKearney. and was interested to see that a number of the top 30 countries which should be "on the radar" of any retailer looking to expand internationally are Asian. This is supported by the International Monetary Fund which has forecast that Asian markets will see a modest recovery by 2010, boosted by stronger export demand and stimulus spending.

Of course, expansion into Asia is nothing new and over the last few years more and more retailers have been testing the waters - but given the recent spate of news items it looks like Asia is back in "vogue" again - much like those shoulder pads! And Modeliste is just itching to go an explore - complete with a designer backpack for all her trophy purchases . . . . . .