BRITISH shoe brand Jimmy Choo is planning to open 50 new stores in China in the next five years as it seeks to capitalise on the voracious demand for luxury goods among the East's new super-rich.
Tamara Mellon, founder and chief creative officer of the fashionable company, said her target to open 10 stores a year was "conservative" and reflected the dawning of a new awareness about fashion in China.
Speaking in Beijing, she said: "I've been looking at real estate only today. China has all the glossy fashion magazines now and Chinese women are highly sophisticated. They want to buy luxuries, but they are also very 'fashion forward'."
Jimmy Choo, now owned by Labelux after a £500m acquisition last July, opened its first store in mainland China in 2004. Seven years later it only has two shops with total sales of about 4,000 pairs of shoes a year at an average of £400 each.
"We went in a little too early, but sales are now up 100pc on last year. Wealth is very young in China, the new rich are in their 30s and 40s, the spending power is everywhere to see, and Jimmy Choo is young brand, with a glamorous, exciting story to tell," Ms Mellon added.
In November last year she was appointed one of Prime Minister David Cameron's global trade envoys, and was speaking as part of a delegation of British creative industry experts showcasing UK talent at the inaugural Beijing Design Week, which began on Monday.
The group was led by Lord Marland of Odstock, the businessman turned politician hired in May to spearhead a group of British Business Ambassadors to drum up business for UK companies and raise the country's profile overseas. Britain and China have set a target of growing UK trade with China from $60bn to $100bn by 2014.