MILAN — Benetton inaugurated its first megastore in China last week, continuing its expansion in Asia, where the Italian apparel manufacturer opened three retail units in Japan within the last two months.The seven-story megastore in Shanghai covers more than 32,400 square feet and displays collections from the United Colors of Benetton, Sisley, The Hip Site and Undercolors lines. A Benetton spokeswoman said the New Media Department of Fabrica, the group’s laboratory that researches and develops communication, installed interactive multimedia installations in the store — a first for the company. The spokeswoman said a new example of "cultural activities" to be held within the megastore will help it be perceived as"a cultural space and meeting point."There are currently more than 130 Benetton megastores around the world, and the firm hopes to raise that to300 in the next couple of years. The spokeswoman said megastores are slated for Beijing and Canton in the next few years, and that "China is growing and has a lot of potential." Benetton has 40 franchised stores in China. As reported, Benetton’s net profit for the six months ended June 30 rose 10.6 percent to $58.5 million from $52.9 million the year earlier. First-half revenue fell 4 percent to $982.5 million from $1.02 billion the year before. Dollar figures have been converted from the euro at current exchange rates. In a separate development, Benetton announced a license to produce and distribute a line of tiles under the United Colors of Benetton brand with Marazzi, one of the sector’s leading companies. The collection will be available early next year.A statement issued by Benetton said the distribution will be focused on Italy, Germany, France, England and the U.S. in particular, which has a "strong potential" and has registered a "significant expansion in consumables" for the sector.The line’s design is meant to be inspired by the various Benetton collections, displaying weaving graphics, stripes, geometrical patterns and, obviously, lots of color. Benetton has two other home licenses, for wallpaper and paint. Marazzi, founded in the Thirties in Sassuolo, the area around Modena in northeastern Italy renowned for tile production, collaborated with designers such as Paco Rabanne, Forquet and Biki in the Sixties.

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