MILAN — Fendi, banking on a recovery of the Japanese market, is opening atwo-story, 5,400-square-foot boutique in Tokyo’s plush Omotesando area on Saturday.

“After the spring, [although] hard-hit by SARS and the war in Iraq, we’ve registered a double-digit growth in Japan, Asia and the U.S. in July, August and the first two weeks in September,” said Giancarlo Di Risio, chief executive officer.

Di Risio is scheduled to attend the opening next week, squelching mounting rumors here that he is leaving Fendi. Sources here say the appointment in May of Christian Dior president Sidney Toledano to oversee the strategy of the Rome-based fashion house has greatly limited Di Risio’s decision making and that the manager is basically out of the LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton-controlled company.

“I have a very good relationship with Toledano and all the rest is gossip,” said Di Risio, who also denied there were any talks with IT Holding about him possibly returning to that company, which he left two years ago. Referring to a press report here, Di Risio said he did not envision it. Di Risio joined Fendi last year.

Di Risio also said there was no truth “whatsoever” to figures published in the Italian press Monday, which reported a Fendi loss in 2002 of $69.9 million against sales of $182.7 million (converted from euros at current exchange), a 24 percent drop compared with 2001. “We are trimming our losses in 2003 compared with 2002,” said Di Risio, noting that, since Fendi is part of LVMH, it cannot disclose financial results.

Di Risio said, however, that Fendi’s fall sales were 19 percent higher than expected. He said sales were being driven by the new Chef bag, which wholesales at $936, and the revamped, handmade Selleria line.

To mark the opening of the Tokyo store, its 38th in Japan, Fendi is launching a limited-edition, personalized bag, which reinterprets the Japanese flag, with a red sequined sun against the company’s traditional double F fabric in brown and black.

The store, designed by Japanese architect Kengo Kuma, revisits the Fendi store concept with contemporary materials such as marble, mirrors and glass contrasting with the traditional walnut and iron shelves.Analysts here estimate Japan accounts for 30 percent of Fendi’s sales.

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