Byline: Vicki M. Young

NEW YORK — Giordano, a big player in retailing casual sportswear in Southeast Asia, expects to double its store count to 1,000 stores by the year 2000.
Giordano’s expansion was disclosed by Peter Lau, chairman and chief executive officer of the Hong Kong-based company, at the Goldman, Sachs “Global Retailing Conference” last week at The Plaza here.
Lau said that Giordano plans on fast regional expansions in Indonesia and Japan. He also sees expansion in Vietnam, though growth there won’t be significant until 2002. However, he said now is the time to get established in Vietnam because real estate prices are reasonable.
Giordano also plans on expanding in the United Kingdom, where it opened its first franchise shop in June, and in the Mideast and India.
Simultaneously, Giordano is considering expanding its mail order and Internet businesses. Currently, the firm sells by mail in Japan, and Lau sees potential in Korea and China.
Giordano began selling apparel in Singapore via the Internet about 18 months ago. Sales are still small there, but Lau expects improvement. He also expects that electronic shopping has a future in Asia, despite concerns over customs and quota issues.
Discussing expansion opportunities in China, Lau said his company is “not anxious to grab the biggest bite” in China, but would rather first establish the right foundation so Giordano can move swiftly when China’s economy takes off.
He views China as a country with three regional markets: northern, central and southern China. The consumers in each market have different demands and tastes, he noted. In the interior of China, consumer tastes become even more varied, he suggested.
Giordano currently has more than 160 shops in China. There are also two stores in Mongolia.
The publicly held firm sells men’s, women’s and unisex sportswear through 500 stores that are either company-owned or franchised. The stores are concentrated in Hong Kong, Taiwan and China, though there are also units in Korea, Singapore and Thailand. The company posted an annual revenue of over $450 million.
Garrett Bennett, a Giordano executive director based in New York, said best-selling items in women’s wear include bell-bottoms and minitops. Top sellers for the holiday season are expected to be stretch pants, flare-leg pants, turtlenecks and sweaters.
Bennett also noted that the 15 basic colors currently sold in Giordano stores haven’t changed during the last 12 years.
White, vanilla, black and heather gray are the colors customers primarily seek out each year. In women’s, the merchandise is grouped according to color schemes.

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