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First kidswear store signals UK retail assault by Guess

US denim brand and retailer Guess is to open standalone stores for its kidswear range and Guess by Marciano sub-brand as it gears up for rapid retail expansion in the UK.

Guess will open its first kids’ store under the Guess Kidswear fascia and a first store for its Guess by Marciano label in 2011. Both are expected to be in London.

Depending on their performance, further roll-outs for the two fascias could follow, said Luca Donnini, president of Guess Europe.

The company wants to boost its retail operations significantly in the UK and has plans to open five new stores here every year for the next three years. These will be a mix of franchise and standalone stores.

Guess opened a 1,300 sq ft accessories store and a 3,200 sq ft store for men’s, women’s and kids’ wear in Knightsbridge, London, last week. Three more stores, in Meadowhall in Sheffield and London’s Victoria Place and One New Change in the City of London, will open by October. It already has 19 UK stores including Bluewater in Kent, and Regent Street and Covent Garden in London.

Donnini said: “Our UK strategy is retail-focused. Our main goal is to establish an excellent retail network to make a strong brand statement.”

Guess has 150 UK wholesale accounts in department stores such as House of Fraser, Selfridges and independent stockists such as two-store young fashion retailer Wild Heart in Bridgnorth and Kidderminster. Donnini said he was also in talks with Harrods about introducing the brand into the department store.

Donnini said Guess’s UK website was one of its most successful in Europe and that he expected it to generate 20% of European online sales by January 2011. The company launched ecommerce in European countries such as Italy and Spain in May 2009 and a transactional website for the UK launched last year.

Guess reported a 6% rise in its European retail and wholesale sales to $222.3m (£144.2m) for the three months to July 31. Total revenue rose 10% to $577.1m (£374.4m).

Guess operates a total of 1,292 stores worldwide.

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