By  on October 19, 2006

HONG KONG - Versace is on an expansion drive in China.Wrapping up a whirlwind trip through the country, Donatella Versace, creative director of Versace SpA, and Giancarlo Di Risio, chief executive officer, said the company plans to open five more stores in Greater China by the end of 2007, bringing the total to 14 directly owned and operated shops here.“The total investment will be about 10 million euros,” or $12.5 million at current exchange, said Di Risio, who explained Versace is concentrating its efforts on China’s main cities, Hong Kong included. “Today we have five first-line boutiques in China, three in Hong Kong, one in Beijing and one in Shanghai. We will add two more in Hong Kong, one in Shanghai, one in Beijing and one in Chengdu.”Versace is confident China is ready for an increased presence of the brand. “I think, for sure, that if Mr. Di Risio is ready to make this investment, then there are enough people in China who can afford [our brand],” she said.Di Risio added, “The China market has really developed lately. It is now third after the U.S. and Japan for luxury products. We are talking about 110 million people who can afford to spend on luxury brands today. In fact, one of our private jets was just sold to a Chinese client.”The two have been visiting China all week, stopping in Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong. Although the tour did not include Taipei, Taiwan, come December that city also will have a new Versace boutique, to be located in Taipei 101. The first new Hong Kong shop is destined for the high-end mall Pacific Place, while the Beijing store will debut at the Four Seasons mall. For complete coverage see tomorrow's issue of WWD.

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