Sat, Nov 05, 2011 - Page 12 News List

Spanish fashion retailer Zara opens at Taipei 101

By Jason Tan  /  Staff Reporter

Banking on Taiwan’s fast-growing appetite for trendy yet affordable clothing, the world’s largest clothing retailer, Inditex SA, is bringing its much-awaited fashion brand Zara to Taiwan with its first store opening at the Taipei 101 shopping mall today.

The Spanish company said its presence in Taiwan is a direct response to demand from local consumers, as well as its fast-expanding sales in Asia, which contribute about 15 percent to the group’s total revenues.

“We are cautious on expansion and we listen to conversations with customers to give what they want,” Inditex chief communications officer Jesus Echevarria told reporters.

The location of the first store is critical, as it aims to make an impression in debuting its fashion brand, and that was why the Taiwanese landmark was a perfect choice to house the two-story, 700 ping (2,314m2) outlet, Echevarria said.

Pricing strategy for the Taiwanese market will be the same as that of Hong Kong, he added.

A second store will be launched by the end of this month along Zhongxiao E Road Sec 4 — a bustling shopping belt in Taipei’s eastern district.

The retailer, which keeps a low profile by doing without commercials or advertisements to promote the brand, did not disclose how many stores it plans to open in Taiwan, as it prefers to work with a store-by-store expansion strategy, he said.

He did not rule out bringing other brands that are under Inditex, such as Zara Home and Bershka, to Taiwan when the time is ripe.

Inditex has eight brands and more than 5,200 shops in more than 70 countries.

Michael Liu (劉家豪), spokesman of Taipei Financial Center Corp (台北金融大樓), the owner of the 101 skyscraper, said the opening of Zara and its competitive price positioning could boost daily traffic at the mall by 5 percent.

The mall sees more than 30,000 visitors a day.

Zara also expects to attract the 10,000-plus employees working in the offices in the skyscraper, Liu added.

Casual-wear brands such as Zara, H&M, Uniqlo are much sought after by Taiwanese consumers, but they had to get them in nearby markets such as Hong Kong or China when they were not available here.

That changed when Japan’s Fast Retailing Co introduced its popular Uniqlo to Taiwan by opening its first store at Uni-President Hankyu Department Store (統一阪急百貨) in Taipei in October last year.

It attracted 7,000 customers to the shop on the first day, including 2,500 who lined up outside.

Fast Retailing launched a second Uniqlo store, also its sixth global flagship store, at Ming Yao Department Store (明曜百貨) in Taipei in September. That will be followed by five more stores to greet customers in the capital by year’s end.

Upbeat on Taiwan’s consumer spending power, Uniqlo said it planned to open 30 outlets each year and would eventually have 100 outlets around the country.

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