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Asia Watch: Expansive Armani … Not So Fast … Breaking In …

EXPANSIVE ARMANI: Armani Group and Swiss watchmaker Omega both announced plans to open retail stores in Shanghai in January 2004. Armani will open a multistore location that will include a Giorgio Armani boutique, an Emporio Armani store and an Armani...

EXPANSIVE ARMANI: Armani Group and Swiss watchmaker Omega both announced plans to open retail stores in Shanghai in January 2004. Armani will open a multistore location that will include a Giorgio Armani boutique, an Emporio Armani store and an Armani Caffe. It is only the second time that the Giorgio Armani and Emporio Armani collections will be available in the same building — the first, at Chater House in Hong Kong, opened last October.

The new shops will be located on The Bund, which is fast becoming Shanghai’s center for high-end dining and designer shopping. Claudio Silvestrin will be responsible for the design of the Giorgio Armani store and Massimilano and Doriana Fuksas will design the Emporio Armani shop and Caffe.

Omega’s Shanghai shop will be the company’s first wholly owned store in Mainland China. The store will be 1,600 to 1,800 square feet in size. A spokesman said the site’s three-year lease, with a three-year option, would be signed in July.

To date, there are only seven wholly owned Omega stores around the world. The bulk of the company’s business is wholesaling to some 6,000 retailers and resellers, including nine in China. — Constance Haisma-Kwok

NOT SO FAST: Fast Retailing Co. Ltd., owner of Uniqlo, continued to struggle in the first half, with a 51.1 percent drop in net profits, to $93.3 million, on a 20.7 percent decline in sales to $1.35 billion for the six months ended Feb. 28. Devaluation of the stocks of its affiliated companies, including the firm’s struggling U.K. unit, resulted in extraordinary losses of $54.2 million. Dollar figures are converted at current exchange rates. On a comparable-store basis, sales fell 26.8 percent against a year ago. Fast Retailing ran 574 Uniqlo stores in Japan as of the end of February.

For the fiscal year ending Aug. 31, the firm projects net profits of $138.3 million on sales of $2.5 billion — although it plans to announce extraordinary losses of $64.1 million at the end of this fiscal year, resulting from difficulties in its subsidiaries in the U.K., China and its food business division. — Koji Hirano

BREAKING IN: Salvatore Ferragamo is scheduled to open a Tokyo flagship on Chuo-dori in the Ginza district on Wednesday. “The opening of a flagship in Tokyo, and particularly on Chuo-dori in Ginza, is a strategic milestone,” said Ferruccio Ferragamo, chief executive of Salvatore Ferragamo Italia SpA. He said Japan is the company’s second most important market, representing more than 26 percent of sales. The Tokyo flagship occupies the entire seven-story building and reflects Ferragamo’s ongoing international expansion. Last year, a flagship in Seoul was opened and next September, a Manhattan flagship on Fifth Avenue will open. Three floors of the Tokyo flagship will be devoted to selling, while the remaining four floors will be office space for Ferragamo Japan K.K. The basement will house the men’s collection; level one will sell women’s shoes, bags, fragrances, sunglasses and silk accessories, and level two will have gallery space and women’s ready-to-wear and accessories. — David Moin