PARIS — Hermès is getting ambitious in China.

Patrick Thomas, chief executive of the French luxury house, told a shareholders’ meeting here on Tuesday the firm aims to double sales in mainland China in the next few years.

He also said Hermès plans to “accelerate” development in North America, while adding that the company was on track for sales growth this year of about 7.5 percent — roughly the same as last year.

Hermès has about 30 new boutiques or renovations scheduled for this year, including a new maison in Seoul that resembles a stylized “H,” designed by Rena Dumas, and shops in Amsterdam and Venice.

Thomas said investments in boutiques and new production facilities should propel the firm, starting next year, to its goal of an average of 10 percent annual sales growth.

It was Hermès’ first shareholders’ meeting since Jean-Louis Dumas stepped down as chairman last year for health reasons. Executives went to lengths to pay homage to Dumas, who was an integral defining voice at the family-controlled firm.

A film was screened of a party in Paris last month during which Hermès staff congregated to salute Dumas, and many of the firm’s executives offered their own verbal tributes, praising Dumas’ dedication and innovation.

“[Dumas’] commitment to quality was such that he made the artisans heroes,” said Jérôme Guerrand-Hermès, who sits on the executive committee.

Though absent, Dumas bid adieu to shareholders by inserting into each annual report a sketch of himself riding off into the horizon on a bicycle.

This story first appeared in the June 7, 2006 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

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