By  on November 30, 2010

PARIS — French department store operator Galeries Lafayette and Hong Kong-based investment holding company I.T Limited have created a joint venture to open Galeries Lafayette department stores in Greater China. The first is set to launch in Beijing in 2013.

The 194,000-square-foot unit, to be located in city’s Xidan commercial district, will be Galeries Lafayette’s first directly managed department store in Asia, the company said.

Under the terms of the joint venture, in which both firms will own a 50 percent stake, I.T will invest a maximum of about 150 million Hong Kong dollars, or $19.3 million, in the first store, according to a statement filed with the Hong Kong stock exchange Nov. 12.

Openings are expected in more than a dozen other cities, including Shanghai, Chengdu, Nanjing, Guangzhou, Xian and Shenzhen, according to the stock market filing. The two parties had originally signed a letter of intent in December 2007.

“I’m delighted about this partnership with a vibrant Hong Kong company that has expertise in various ready-to-wear customer segments,” said Galeries Lafayette chairman Philippe Houzé.

Galeries Lafayette operates 61 department stores worldwide and reported total retail sales of 2.55 billion euros, or $3.56 billion, in 2009. I.T operates more than 350 stores in mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan and posted turnover of 2.99 billion Hong Kong dollars, or $386.48 million, in the financial year ended 2010.

“Galeries Lafayette is the ideal partner for us,” said Sham Kar Wai, chairman and chief executive officer of I.T Limited. “It will allow us to diversify our business and develop our ready-to-wear brands into a dynamic component of the department-store mix.”

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