ROOTS PLANS 100 STORES IN CHINA

Byline: Brian Dunn

MONTREAL — Roots Canada Ltd. plans to open 100 stores in China over the next five years and has hopes of adding to its total of six U.S. outlets.
The Toronto-based company, which gained worldwide recognition by outfitting the 1998 Canadian Olympic team in Nagano, Japan, is also considering opening stores in Germany and Great Britain within the next two years.
The U.K. store plan follows a recent contract the company signed to provide 100 uniforms for the British Olympic team. That followed an earlier deal with the U.S. Olympic team for the 2002 Games in Salt Lake City.
Roots expects to complete an agreement before the end of the year with an undisclosed Hong Kong retailer to operate 100 outlets in China by 2006. The first stores, which will open in Shanghai and Beijing, won’t be larger than 1,000 square feet, compared to Canadian outlets which range up to 20,000 square feet.
The company, founded in 1973 in Toronto by two former classmates from Michigan, logs annual sales of about $192 million (converted from Canadian dollars at current exchange rates) and operates 140 outlets in Canada, 65 stores in South Korea and 12 in Taiwan. It plans to open 18 more units in Taiwan.
Roots president Marshal Myles said he would like to see more stores in the U.S., including San Francisco and Seattle.
Two years ago, Roots said it planned to add between 25 and 40 more stores in the U.S. over a three-year period, a target that won’t be reached.
At the time, co-founder Michael Budman said there’s room for about another 200,000 square feet of expansion in Canada, in explaining the reason for slower expansion south of the border. He said the brand is already strong in the U.S. and the company’s approach will be to open primarily in ski resorts where Roots seem to do quite well because it’s seen as a lifestyle brand.

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