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International lingerie chains ready to bust into UK underwear market

Two international retailers are poised to shake up the UK lingerie sector, as Russian and Italian chains open in prime London locations by the end of the year.

Russian 50-store retailer Wild Orchid will debut in the UK next week with a shop at Bluewater in Kent. Three more openings will follow this year, in Kensington High Street and Oxford Street in London and The Glades shopping centre in Bromley, Kent.

The stores, which will range from 1,500 sq ft to 1,800 sq ft, will trade under the name Vendetta, one of Wild Orchid's own labels, which the chain launched in 2004. Wild Orchid sells up to 40 top-end lingerie and swimwear labels including Dior, John Galliano and Chloe, as well as its own labels Vendetta and Decollete. It also stocks accessories, hosiery and kids' underwear.

Italian lingerie retailer Calzedonia will open a standalone mono-brand store for its Tezenis label in the former Shellys unit on Oxford Circus before Christmas. Calzedonia also owns the Intimissimi chain.

Tenezis, which has about 50 stores in Italy and shops in Spain, Portugal, Croatia and the Czech Republic, is Calzedonia's younger and lower-priced lingerie brand. It is manufactured in China, unlike Intimissimi and Calzedonia, which are manufactured in Sri Lanka. Bras will retail from £10.

Intimissimi opened its first UK store in Reading in 2006 and now has a total of four stores in the UK.

Carol Duncumb, chief executive of Intimas, which owns rival brands Lepel, Charnos and Discover Mademoiselle, said she welcomed the new names. "The UK lingerie market has long been dominated by the multiples, which is different from the continent. The UK high street is an emerging place for new brands and formats," she said.

Calzedonia and Wild Orchid were unavailable for comment.

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