SEOUL — Fendi plans to increase the number of its stores in China to 20 from 16 by the end of 2012, the company’s chief executive officer Michael Burke said.

This story first appeared in the June 2, 2011 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

The new stores include one in Beijing; one in Tianjin, to the east of Beijing; one in the northeast industrial city of Shenyang, and a second store in the southern city of Guangzhou, said Burke. The stores will be probably no more than 6,500 square feet in size, he said.

“Size for the sake of size is passé,” Burke said in an interview with WWD in Seoul, where Fendi will host fashion show today on the city’s Han River. “More and more it’s about service, special products.”

Fendi has 65 stores in Asia. China, excluding Macau, Hong Kong and Taiwan, and South Korea are tied as Fendi’s fourth-biggest markets in terms of sales behind Japan, the U.S. and Italy. Burke declined to disclose sales figures.

China remains one of the few countries in Asia where retail expansion is possible as new cities are under construction to house, feed and clothe millions of new urban workers, the Fendi ceo said. Many good store sites in other Asian countries such as South Korea, Taiwan and Japan are already taken or are prohibitively expensive.

In South Korea, Fendi has 13 stores and 11 duty free outlets.

“As our department store partners in Korea expand, so will we expand with them,” said Burke.

He added he is seeking to change Fendi’s image in Asia as “initially that of a leather goods company” by offering a full range of the company’s products in its stores in the region, complemented by well-trained staff knowledgeable about the luxury goods house’s history and craftsmanship.

Consumer preference in Asia is increasing for a unique luxury goods product, said Burke. That is being satisfied by Fendi through its “Fatto a Mano” initiative, he said. “Fatto a Mano” creates handmade items through the collaboration of a Fendi craftsman and an outside designer working in store in full view of the public.

“Fendi is not something from the worldwide supply chain: faceless, nameless and placeless,” said Burke. “Fendi is the opposite.”

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