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Raoul is making a significant push into China.
This story first appeared in the May 29, 2013 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
As part of its global expansion strategy, the Singapore-based fashion label is rolling out stores throughout China, beginning in September. The stores are a result of a franchise deal with Chongqing, China-based Budy (Chongqing) Import & Export Trading Co. Ltd., which is owned by local entrepreneur Anderson Wang. The five-year deal with an option for renewal will bring 27 Raoul-branded boutiques to such cities as Shanghai, Beijing and Chengdu by 2017.
“This is the first major franchise deal we’ve signed for Raoul, and I’m pleased that we’ve found in Anderson a partner who is energetic, enterprising and understands the DNA of Raoul,” said Douglas Benjamin, chief operating officer of FJ Benjamin Holding, which owns Raoul.
“We are really impressed with the Raoul creations. Its chic style projects both confidence and comfort, which we feel will be well accepted in China,” Wang added. “China is expected to be the largest fashion market in the next five years, and we believe that it is ready to embrace accessible luxury brands like Raoul.”
Raoul was launched by Benjamin and his wife, Odile, in 2002, initially offering affordable men’s shirts. Since then, it added women’s and accessories, with distribution in markets including Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines. Recently, it also made a push in key European markets. The label is part of the FJ Benjamin Group, which distributes fashion and lifestyle brands across Asia, including Céline, Givenchy, Goyard, Banana Republic, Gap, Guess, Bell & Ross and Girard-Perregaux.
Recently, several celebrities and other well-known figures have been spotted in Raoul clothing, including Zhang Ziyi, Rebecca Romijn, Viola Davis, Jennifer Lawrence and the Duchess of Cambridge.
“As Raoul increases its profile in the global fashion capitals, we’ve seen growing interest from franchise operators in the Middle East and Asia,” Benjamin said. “We expect to sign another franchise deal in the region.”