By  on November 1, 2010

SHANGHAI California-based Cherokee Inc. has officially launched its namesake brand in China through a distribution deal with RT-Mart, the country’s largest supermarket chain by sales volume.

“This is one of the biggest launches we have ever had in a huge country and with a very aggressive company,” Cherokee chief executive Henry Stupp said at a recent launch event, which featured a runway show of the fall-winter collection. “We felt right from the beginning that RT-Mart had a long-term vision for where they wanted to take this brand, and they respected the culture, the history and the legacy of Cherokee.”

Cherokee inked the exclusive, multi-year international licensing deal last November with RT-Mart, a division of Ruentex Industries Ltd., a Taiwan-based textile company. French retailer Groupe Auchan SA also owns a stake in the hypermarket chain, which first opened in China in 1997 and now has 134 stores on the mainland.

By April, RT-Mart had Cherokee’s children’s line in 67 locations. The hypermarket introduced the women’s line in all of its stores last month and will expand to a men’s collection by the spring. There are also plans to extend the brand to footwear, denim, beauty, jewelry, sports and home collections, said Peter Huang, chief executive of RT-Mart China.

Executives declined to give a sales forecast.

While RT-Mart sells a hodgepodge of Chinese labels in stores, including its own private label called Bes Carol, Cherokee is the first foreign clothing brand RT-Mart has introduced into its apparel mix.

The goal, said Huang, is to adopt a “smart fashion” concept whereby consumers can buy high-quality yet cheap clothes while purchasing commodities in hypermarkets.

“We need fashionable brands [in RT-Mart],” said Huang, who said he became interested in Cherokee after seeing its products in Target during a trip to the United States. “Supermarkets always pursue low price, but consumers also seek fashion. We found this brand in an American hypermarket and wondered how such high quality products can be sold at such low prices. It was unbelievable.”


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