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Forever21 eyes Oxford Street to kick-start international expansion

US fashion retailer Forever 21 has revealed that it wants to open a store on London’s Oxford Street as the first step in a possible expansion into Europe.

Speaking at the World Retail Congress, independent adviser Christopher Lee said that the popular fashion brand was looking for a suitable site for a statement outlet on the scale of Topshop’s famous emporium.

However, Lee stressed that the retailer had not yet identified a suitable site. “It can’t be a small box, we need to create some kind of presence,” he said.

Forever 21 has hired retail agent Harper Dennis Hobbs to scout for appropriate locations.

Forever21 is expanding rapidly in its domestic market and Lee said that it was now targeting empty department store space to bring in newer, big-box versions of its store formats. “Because of the deals we can strike we get very good value per square foot and that allows us to experiment with new product lines,” he said.

Joining Lee on stage was Mango senior vice-president of business development Jose Gomez, who admitted that the retailer, while pledged to expansion, was attracted to lower cost markets at present and that it was even considering Iran and Iraq. “We have always liked to expand into new markets first,” said Gomez.

Lev Khasis, CEO of Russia’s largest retail chain X5 Group, said that his chain of food stores was also looking for opportunities to grow but that expansion was most likely within its current geographical base. He also anticipated competition from Wal-Mart and Carrefour. “I don’t know when but it is coming soon,” he said. Khasis cited Ukraine as the most likely market for growth outside Russia for his own stores.

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