Prada pursues aggresive international expansion, with over 260 planned new stores

Prada flagship store

PRADA Group plans to add 260 stores in the next three years to tap demand in emerging markets including Brazil, China and Persian Gulf countries. “We aim to speed up expansion by opening 100 stores this year, 80 stores each in 2013 and 2014 globally,” said Chief Executive Officer Patrizio Bertelli whose company opened 75 stores last year.

Demand for Prada leather goods and other items is rising even as China’s economic growth slows and Europe’s debt crisis weighs on consumer spending, Bertelli said. The company is benefiting from increasingly wealthy Chinese tourists who are fueling growth in Europe as it also targets markets in the Middle East, he said.

“We are expanding in Morocco, Istanbul, Beirut, Dubai and Qatar,” Bertelli said in an interview with Bloomberg Television conducted in Italian via a translator. “Brazil is also a big market we’re looking at.”

The expansion would increase the number of Prada outlets to 674 by adding to the 388 directly operated stores and 26 franchises it had as of January. Shares of the company, whose $2.5 billion initial public offering was Hong Kong’s biggest in 2011, have gained 30 percent this year.

The Milan-based company expects the sales contribution of the Asia Pacific region to rise to 40 percent in 2012 and 2013, from 35 percent last year. It plans to open 12 to 15 new stores in China this year, and India is the next destination.

“We currently do not have any shop in India, but we are looking to open a first store maybe in a luxury hotel in Mumbai or New Delhi soon,” Bertelli said.

Speaking about counterfeiting, Bertelli shrugged off concerns that fake goods could hurt the company’s sales in markets such as China. “Fake goods aren’t totally bad, at least it created jobs at some counterfeit factories,” said Bertelli. “We don’t want to be a brand that nobody wants to copy.”

adapted from Bloomberg