Sept. 9 - Chinese retail giant Bosideng opens its first flagship shop outside of mainland China inside a converted London pub. Hayley Platt reports.
It's a household name in China with more than 10,000 outlets across the country. Now the mens fashion retailer - Bosideng - has opened its first store abroad. It's spent 30 million pounds converting a former London pub into a three story shop selling luxury menswear. The company's UK CEO Wayne Zhu says it's just the beginning. SOUNDBITE: Wayne Zhu, UK CEO Bosideng, saying (English): "London is really like a hub of fashion menswear, we feel it's a very good basis for a future expansion into the UK and Europe. We would think that in the next 10 years we will be in a few major cities like Paris or Milan or Rome. Also by that time we would already have a store in New York as well." Bosideng has been described as China's Marks & Spencer. It's famous for duck-down filled jackets but sells a range of quality off-the-peg clothing. Retail Director Jason Denmark believes its rivals may soon follow suit. SOUNDBITE: Jason Denmark, UK director of retail operations, saying (English): "A lot of Chinese retailers are looking at this as a platform maybe to further investment into central London and the UK or even Europe or even in America. They're seeing this as the benchmark. I think what you will see is there will be more Chinese brands developing their culture and their style and their apparel ranges within central London." For years western firms have expanded into China. But few Chinese brands have found success in the west. Beijing-based sportswear firm Li-Ning lasted just two years in the U.S. after struggling to compete with established giants like Nike and Adidas. Dominic Swords, a Professor of Economics, says that could be about to change. SOUNDBITE: Dominic Swords, Professor of Economics, Henley Business School, saying (English): "Seeing a Chinese retailer coming in is just the tip of the iceberg. For the last five or six years there's been a lot of Chinese interest directly enter in to lot's of business to business sectors and this is the next natural progression on. And I think one of the issues when you're looking at the retail sector is you've got to be very aware of carefully positioning yourself in the market, really understanding is your proposition going to appeal to the market here in Europe is really critical." SOUNDBITE: Wayne Zhu, UK CEO Bosideng, saying (English): "As a business you can not avoid a risk but we did a very detailed business plan. We studied the market for years and we think the risk is pretty minimal. It sounds like a large amount of money but compared to the sales and assets of Bosideng its only a small fraction." Bosideng isn't trying to change western styles completely. British designers Nick Holland and Ash Gangotra have created the 500-item collection - and the clothers are even made in Europe to ensure they meet western standards. The likes of H & M and Zara need not worry yet but Bosideng is hoping to become the first major Chinese retailer to succeed in Europe. Hayley Platt, Reuters.