MILAN — In line with its strategy to develop Latin American markets, Benetton Group has signed an agreement with Sears Mexico to expand the United Colors of Benetton brand in Mexico.

Under the terms of the deal, the Italian clothing manufacturer will open 250 points of sale by 2010, of which 200 will be located in Sears stores across the country.

Sears Mexico is controlled by Grupo Carso, which owns about 85 percent of the firm. The remainder is held by Sears Holdings Corp. in the U.S.

Signing the agreement in Mexico City on Tuesday, executive deputy chairman Alessandro Benetton said Sears will help “accelerate” the group’s growth in that country. He defined the alliance with the retailer as “solid…based not only on our shared objective regarding high-quality products, retailing and customer service, but also on the common Latin spirit of our corporate identities and backgrounds.”

Benetton said he viewed the agreement with Sears as a “fundamental phase” in the company’s plans to boost its business in emerging markets. As reported, Benetton sees significant potential in India, China, the countries of the former Soviet Union, Turkey and Latin America. Over the next three years, Benetton expects its business in emerging markets to reach sales of 300 million euros, or $438.4 million at current exchange rates, and a network of 1,200 stores, compared with sales of 100 million euros, or $146.1 million, and 500 stores today.

Carlos Slim Domit, chairman of Sears Mexico, said Benetton is “a highly prestigious international brand and this partnership will allow us to continue offering fashion and high-quality products to our clients.”

Benetton said it views Mexico, “with its rapid economic growth and young population (60 percent below 24 years of age)…as one of the key markets on the American continent.” Mexico is only the first step in South America for the company, which is seeking new “business opportunities” in the area, also through the opening of new offices in Miami.

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