By  on February 22, 2008

HONG KONG — Coach Inc. is putting the finishing touches on a major flagship here, set to be the company's second largest in Asia.

The 9,500-square-foot store will span two floors and represents an expansion of Central's luxury retail neighborhood. The location, on the corner of Queen's Road Central and D'Aguilar Street, is further west than its nearest retail neighbors: H&M, Nike and Esprit. It is also blocks away from The Landmark, the district's best-known luxury shopping mall.

Balbina Wong, deputy chairman and chief executive officer of Imaginex Group, which operates Coach stores in Greater China, believes the location, close to the city's most popular entertainment areas, is a sound choice. "The shops are all getting bigger and there is no space in Central anymore," said Wong. "We're happy with this corner location — it's close to Soho and Lan Kwai Fong, but is still part of Central."

The store is slated to open in May, just before the Olympics get under way in Beijing. Wong said the store will cater to tourists and locals alike. "Hong Kong is dependant on tourism, so this is for tourists from Mainland China and Southeast Asia, but it's also for the locals," she said, noting the brand is positioned in Asia the same way it is in the U.S.

"This is accessible luxury, with a great fashion sense," said Wong. "And the fashion part is very important because we get new merchandise every four weeks," she said, adding, "It's accessories that are so easily accessible for a lot of people. The business may be cooling a bit in the West, but it hasn't even reached most of China yet."

The new flagship will be the eighth Coach shop in Hong Kong. Imaginex also operates 14 Coach stores in Mainland China. "We're expanding rapidly in China and going into second-tier cities," said Wong. "China has more than 100 cities with a population of a million or more people, so there is plenty of room to grow. We hope that in five years we will have 50 to 60 stores in China, which is absolutely possible. Some cities already have two or three Coach stores and they can certainly have more."

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