By  on July 15, 2010

SYDNEY — Inditex Group, Europe’s largest clothing retailer and owner of the Zara chain, plans to expand into Australia and South Africa next year as part of a campaign to enlarge its global footprint.

The group opened 98 stores in 29 countries during the first quarter, bringing the total to more than 4,700 locations in 76 countries.

Zara’s Australian debut would start with a few doors in key large cities in the first year, an Inditex spokesman said.

Company executives are believed to have traveled to Australia in April to scout retail locations, including the new Westfield shopping mall in Sydney’s city center, expected to finish construction in late September.

Zara’s Australian license is said to be held by Peter Lew. His father, Solomon Lew, is the chairman of Melbourne-based Premier Investments, which owns a portfolio of Australian fashion brands, including Peter Alexander, Just Jeans and Portmans.

Australia is the next step in Inditex’s aggressive global rollout strategy, which cut the ribbon on 343 new stores in 2009.

Zara will launch online sales on Sept. 2 in France, Germany, the U.K., Spain, Italy and Portugal.

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