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Franchise stores will drive G-Star’s global expansion

G-Star plans to double its global retail footprint by the end of 2015, following growth in Japan, Australia, the US and China.

The Dutch denim business, which has a $1bn (£630m) global turnover from a mainly wholesale operation, is planning to grow internationally through franchise stores, adding another 450 to its existing 301.

Shubhankar Ray, global brand director at G-Star, said: “Global momentum is quite strong. We are growing in the big markets – Japan, Australia, China and the US. There’s a lot of growth left, even in Europe. In places like Italy we do not have a flagship or standalone, so there is a lot to do.”

This week, G-Star opened its largest store to date on Leighton Road in Causeway Bay, Hong Kong. At 7,319 sq ft, it is twice the size of its flagships opened in Tokyo, Los Angeles and Sydney in the past three years.

Last December, G-Star celebrated the opening of its 300th store, on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles. At present, G-Star has websites in four countries, a wholesale operation and franchises. It has 6,000 points of sale in 65 countries.

Ray said G-Star was finding traction in large metropolitan centres and that these would be the sorts of locations for expansion.

He said: “What we found is that the brand gets picked up more in cities, in landmark stores. We bring product and entertainment together in ‘pop-up shows’ inside these stores.

“The Hong Kong store is a great building that will allow us to do a distilled version of our New York catwalk shows and we’ve got space to install a denim museum. All of this energises the store and flows into the brand.”

G-Star is expanding globally via franchises, Ray said, because it was a safer and more organic way of growing. In China, the franchise operation is run through a partner with which G-Star has a 20-year history, having used its factories.

Ray added: “We’re not the retail experts. We learn from them. It’s a relatively symbiotic relationship. Our attitude is that we’re not opening the stores, the local entrepreneurs do that. We offer them the opportunity.”

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