By  on April 23, 2010

TOKYO — Salvatore Ferragamo SpA chief executive officer Michele Norsa said the house is performing more strongly than expected in Japan, registering an 8 percent jump in retail sales in the first three months of the year.

Norsa said April is shaping up well, too. “It’s been many years since I’ve seen four positive months in a row…both in Tokyo and in other parts of Japan,” the executive said, just minutes after cutting the ribbon on Ferragamo’s new store in the Roppongi district on Thursday.

The executive attributed the increase to a variety of factors, including easy comps from a depressed market at the beginning of 2009, a steady flow of Chinese tourists to Ginza and Ferragamo’s strategic move to offer more entry-level-priced products, especially handbags. This more affordable range includes nylon totes with leather-braid handles and Swarovski-studded logo motifs, which retail for 99,750 yen, or $1,070. The purple and brown versions are exclusive to the Roppongi boutique.

Norsa’s upbeat comments contrast sharply with those of many other executives grappling Japan’s long-standing economic stagnation and tepid demand for luxury products. Just last week, Bain & Co. forecast that luxury goods sales in Japan likely will drop 3 percent this year.

“China is growing a lot, but Japan remains a very big market,” Norsa reasoned. “It’s only right to be present here and make investments.”

The new 2,798-square-foot Ferragamo unit is located in the Roppongi Hills retail-residential complex on a strip housing Louis Vuitton, Loro Piana, Escada and a host of other shops. The space was formerly occupied by Versace, which recently shuttered all of its boutiques in the country. Within Ferragamo’s network, the Roppongi store replaces an older boutique in The New Otani Hotel, which will close soon.

Ferragamo already has a store in Ginza and a significant presence in Tokyo department stores, but Norsa said Roppongi offers the Italian brand a different kind of environment. The neighborhood, rife with restaurants and clubs, is populated with well-heeled expats and tourists.

The two-level boutique features a mix of women’s and men’s footwear, handbags, accessories and apparel. In step with Ferragamo’s most recent design concept, the store’s interiors feature Italian marble floors, walnut walls and leather furnishings. “[It’s important to have a] nice new store in Japan, because actually, many of our stores and shop-in-shops in department stores date back many years,” Norsa said.

The brand has about 75 sales points in the country.

Ferragamo is channeling its efforts on Asia, particularly in fast-growing China. Next week, the Italian brand will open a large flagship at Shanghai’s International Financial Center to coincide with the opening of the World Expo. In June, it will stage a fashion show in Hong Kong at the Bank of China skyscraper.

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