By  on May 30, 2008

MILAN — It's a packed calendar for Dolce & Gabbana, which is planning store openings around the world over the next 12 months, investing in both developed and emerging markets.

Between the end of this year and early next year, the Italian fashion company will open 24 stores, of which eight are directly operated. And in an interview, Cristiana Ruella, the group's director of general affairs, estimated wholesale sales, including revenues of licensed products, for the fiscal year ending March 31 will show a 20 percent increase compared with the previous year. As of March 31, 2007, wholesale revenues reached 1.35 billion euros, or $1.72 billion at average exchange rates for the period.

Ruella also said consolidated sales are expected to rise 20 percent compared with 1.05 billion euros, or $1.34 billion, as of March 31, 2007. Full financial results for the 2007-08 fiscal year will be reported in September.

Among the most relevant openings Ruella cited were boutiques under the Dolce & Gabbana and D&G banners at new luxury mall, Emporio, in New Delhi within the year. In Beijing, a D&G store will open in July and a 12,096-square-foot Dolce & Gabbana flagship will open in spring 2009. Elsewhere, D&G will roll out its new concept store in Los Angeles in November, and in Kobe, Japan, in September. D&G stores also will open in China's second-tier cities Nanjing, Shenyang and Dalian before the fall.

"We are doing very well in China, and believe India is a big opportunity for us," said Ruella. "We know we have to step into this market, but we don't expect to have as quick a turnaround as in China. We think we'll see significant results in five years' time — no sooner."

The executive said the company has signed an agreement with leading Indian real estate firm DLF Group to secure spaces in Emporio, but it is still evaluating its franchise partner there. These will be the company's first boutiques in India.

Ruella also sees great potential in the Middle East and in Eastern Europe. "We can still invest a lot in the Middle East; we have yet to reach the ceiling there," she said. In July, Dolce & Gabbana stores will open in Manama, Bahrain, and Doha, Qatar, while a men's signature brand boutique will open in Kuwait City, Kuwait, in February. D&G stores will open in Manama, Doha and Dubai this year, and in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, next year.In addition to Istanbul, the executive singled out Moscow, where D&G will open a 14,040-square-foot store in the spring, and Budapest, where the company plans to open a D&G store in 12 months.

The company currently has 90 stores around the world, of which 68 are directly operated.

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