By  on October 19, 2006

A|X Armani Exchange is picking up the pace when it comes to international expansion.

The company, which operates 105 stores worldwide and has been in business since 1991, has been pushing its international openings outside the U.S. since 1994. Now, with new stores opening in Abu Dhabi on Friday and Brazil next month, the brand is entering new territory.

"When we plan to open in new areas, we are always careful to make sure that the Georgio Armani and Emporio Armani brands are established in those particular areas first," said Harlan Bratcher, president of A|X Armani Exchange. "And now we are definitely in expansion mode, we are even 10 stores ahead of schedule."

The company is entering the Middle East for the first time with the opening of the Abu Dhabi store in the Marina Mall. The 2,690-square-foot unit is on the main level of the mall. Twenty-five more locations are planned in the region within the next three years.

Next, the brand will enter South America with the opening of its first two Brazilian stores at the Morumbi Mall in São Paolo and the Leblon Mall in Rio de Janeiro. The stores cover 3,548 square feet and 3,693 square feet, respectively.

"The Armani Exchange brand represents young, urban and sexy," Bratcher said. "I really think that these cities represent these things pretty well, not to mention they are Brazil's largest cities."

The São Paolo store, opening on Nov. 24, will be located on the first level in the Morumbi Mall. The mall, which is an enclosed shopping center, consists of three levels and has a variety of luxury stores, restaurants and a cineplex.

The Rio de Janeiro location, opening on Nov. 29, is also on the first level of the Leblon Mall. The shopping center is located in the heart of Rio.

Beginning in the spring, Bratcher said the company will open 25 more stores throughout South America and Mexico.

These openings are part of the joint venture between Giorgio Armani SpA and Como Holdings Inc. Armani officials said the A|X Armani Exchange business is expected to almost double in annual sales volume to $550 million within three years, opening 95 stores worldwide.

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