FLAGSHIPS FLOCKING: Prada and Yves Saint Laurent have signed deals with Hongkong Land to open stores in Alexandra House here in 2004. The move marks Prada’s return to Alexandra House, the high-end office and retail building that has been undergoing extensive renovations for two years. At 9,300 square feet, the two-story shop will be the company’s largest in Asia outside Japan. The new Prada flagship will be designed by Roberto Baciocchi and is slated for an early 2004 opening.

Similarly, Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche will open a 3,400-square-foot boutique in Alexandra House early next year. The brand is moving from its current location in The Landmark, another Hongkong Land property that is about to undergo refurbishment.

Alexandra House is situated in Central, Hong Kong’s premier shopping and business district. It is joined via elevated pedestrian walkways to the five-star Mandarin Oriental Hotel, The Landmark, Chater House and Prince’s Building — all upscale properties owned and managed by Hongkong Land.

Over the past few years, Hongkong Land has been upgrading all its luxury retail properties in Central district. Last year, the company unveiled Chater House, formerly Swire House, which is now home to the largest Giorgio Armani retail presence outside Milan.

The Landmark, which boasts numerous designer boutiques — including Marc Jacobs, Gucci, Tod’s, Kenzo, Valentino and Sonia Rykiel — will also house a boutique hotel to be run by the Mandarin Oriental. Because the renovations to The Landmark are expected to take years to complete, it has left many labels looking for new, if temporary, homes.

Although no statement has been issued, The Landmark renovations affect Prada, too. The brand has a freestanding shoe store in the shopping center as well as a ready-to-wear boutique in Chater House. It has been speculated that those two stores will be merged into the Alexandra House flagship come 2004. — Constance Haisma-Kwok

RAGING ROPPONGI: More than 100 million people have visited Tokyo’s new “Roppongi Hills” area since it opened in late April under the metropolitan city’s $2.3 billion redevelopment project. Now Louis Vuitton plans to join the neighborhood on Sept. 5 with its 47th unit in Japan. The 12,370-square-foot store will be Vuitton’s fourth largest in Japan. Roppongi Hills — which mixes shops, offices, restaurants and a residential area — generated estimated sales of $38.5 million within its first month of opening. It is located about 15 minutes from Tokyo’s Ginza. Dollar figures have been converted from the yen at current exchange. — Koji HiranoHONG KONG LEATHER HAUL: Hong Kong’s Customs and Excise Department reported a record $8.65 million haul of counterfeit leather goods last week, according to reports in the Hong Kong newspaper The Standard.

Acting on intelligence from U.S. Customs, officers of the Ports and Marine Command at Kwai Chung container terminal found more than 6,000 pieces of counterfeit goods in a container bound for New York. Over the next few days, two more containers were examined and found to be holding more pirated handbags, wallets, belts and hats. In total, more than 34,000 pieces of counterfeit leather goods have been seized.

So far, no arrests have been made in the case. Under the Trade Descriptions Ordinance, any person importing or exporting goods with false trade descriptions is liable to prosecution. The maximum penalty is a HK$500,000 fine and five years’ imprisonment. — C.H.K.

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