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Paul Smith set for Chinese expansion

British designer label Paul Smith is set for a second assault on the Chinese market and will open 24 stores in the next five years after signing a partnership with Hong Kong brand and distribution firm ImagineX.

According to the Financial Times, the brand is to open a 5,000 sq ft flagship store in Shanghai, five years after the company retreated from China.

As part of the new partnership with ImagineX, Paul Smith will open 24 stores over the next five years with the first set to open in September in Tianjin. The stores will be operated as franchises.

Paul Smith pulled out of China in 2007 due to undisclosed losses. Founder Paul Smith has previously said that the Chinese market was “extremely dangerous” due to its very high rents and because the majority of the population only want “clothes to cover their bodies”.

However, over the last few years Chinese consumers have helped fuel the growth in luxury brands. A report by consultancy firm McKinsey forecasts that by 2015 Chinese luxury consumption will account for 20% of the global market.

Asia is already a strong market for Paul Smith and the brand has stores in Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, the Philippines and Korea.

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