By  on September 10, 2008

MILAN - The Emilio Pucci brand has opened its first store in Mainland China as part of a major retail expansion around the world over the next four months.

During that time, four stores are slated to open in the Middle East in Dubai, Doha (Qatar), Jeddah and Riyadh (Saudi Arabia). Stores in Cannes, France, and Honolulu, Hawaii, will open in October, followed by a unit in Nagoya, Japan, in November. A store in Singapore will open in March 2009.

The 1,188-square-foot boutique in Shanghai is located in the Citic Square Mall, at the intersection with the 3.6 mile-long  Nanjing West Road, considered the country¹s premier shopping  street. The boutique followed the unveiling in May of Pucci's Hong Kong store.

"China and Asia are indispensable; you can't do without them," said Pucci general manager Didier Drouet, adding a store is slated to open in Beijing next year.

"It was time for us to be present there with our namesake stores," he said.

The brand was previously available at Lane Crawford in Hong Kong and Beijing.

Drouet said the Hong Kong boutique is already "working very well" and that he was "more than happy" with its performance. "Brand awareness in Hong Kong was very strong even before we opened the store," said Drouet. "There is a little more work to do in Mainland China in terms of educating customers," he added.

The Shanghai boutique is in line with the brand's other stores around the world. The decor in aqua hues is emphasized by a hand-woven rug in an original print and a coordinated Cappellini armchair. The walls are embellished with strips of backlit fabrics. Curved and lacquered Plexiglas shelves are also lit, adding brightness to the store. This is further accented by a large front window, which runs the entire length of the store's façade.

The apparel collections are displayed on transparent hangers, as if suspended in mid-air. The store was designed by Vudafieri Partners, DeuxL and is managed by Imaginex Group. Pucci currently counts 41 boutiques around the world.

The company, which is a division of LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, does not disclose its revenues. However, Drouet said 2008 will show strong growth, despite currency issues.

Italy and the U.S. are the brand's main markets, as combined they account for almost half of revenues.

Pucci's retail expansion reflects the brand's product diversification, said Drouet, citing the launch last year of eyewear and fragrance. "We are evolving into a complete lifestyle brand," said the executive.

As reported, Pucci, is searching for a successor to creative director Matthew Williamson, who is focusing on growing his signature business and will leave his post at Pucci this fall at the end of his contract.

Drouet declined to comment on the hunt for a new creative director, but Pucci is said to have approached some design assistants and designer Peter Dundas about succeeding Williamson, who took over from Christian Lacroix three years ago.

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