Fashion retailer to bring in 12 international brands

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Monday, March 10, 2014


HIGH-END fashion specialty retailer Stores Specialists Inc. (SSI) announced they are bringing in at least 12 new international brands in the country this year on the back of the strong retail infrastructure and thriving tourism and travel industries.

“The space at the moment is limited but there new malls being developed, which is a good sign that the market is ready to take more stores and international brands,” said Anthony T. Huang, SSI executive vice-president.

Huang said the Cebu market is ready for more luxury brands given that its tourism industry is growing.

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Tourists

“We see a lot of tourists in your malls,” he said.

SSI is a member of the Rustan Group of Companies, which operates shops in Metro Manila, Pampanga, Baguio, Cebu and Davao. The firm is the exclusive franchisee of more than 80 international brands, trading in 650 stores nationwide.

SSI recently opened the first F&F store in Cebu at the new wing of the Ayala Center Cebu. This British-inspired international brand offers a broad range of affordable fashion.

F&F Cebu is the store’s fourth outlet in the Philippines. It opened first in Mindanao in General Santos City and Cagayan de Oro City.

Marcus Chipchase, F&F managing director told reporters they are eyeing to open at least 10 branches in the Philippines, with five of these located in Manila.

Chipchase said they are banking on the Philippines’ large young population, which is a potential market for F&F.

“The response, so far, of the Philippine market is good. I can say, that we are meeting the expectations of the market, at the same time, we are learning to adapt to this new market as we move forward,” he said.

F&F is owned and operated by multinational retail chain Tesco. In the Philippines, F&F is exclusively distributed by SSI. F&F has over 2,000 outlets worldwide and is present in 22 countries. It started in UK in 2001.

F&F designs are developed by their London-based designers who travel the world’s fashion capitals to research looks and seasonal trends, the company said.

“What we are offering to Cebu is an affordable fashion from an international brand,” said Chipchase.

Huang said the opening of F&F store in Cebu is an indication of a vibrant retail industry here.

“The Philippines has a very exciting retail market over the past years. Filipino consumers have become extremely sophisticated that has taken on well with international fashion and label as evidenced by the success of the brands that we brought here,” said Huang.

“We definitely want to grow throughout the Philippines,” he said.

Among the new international brands that will open next month in Manila are: Old Navy, Pottery Barn, Givenchy and Alexander McQueen.

Spanish-clothing brand Zara, on the other hand, will open its first outlet in Cebu next month. Zara has a network of 1,752 stores in upscale locations in the world’s largest cities.

Healthy growth

Huang said SSI posted double-digit growth in the past three years. “This healthy growth is the reason we are expanding our business quite aggressively,” he said.

Huang is optimistic the impending Asean integration in 2015 will open more opportunities for them.

“We have a strong retail network and infrastructure throughout the country. We are ideally positioned in the Philippine market as we expand more international brands here,” said Huang.

“The benefit the Asean integration will bring to our industry is the fact that there will be whole lot more cross-border trade and therefore, a whole lot more cross-border travel and tourism that will increase the market size for the retail business not only in Manila but in other destinations like Cebu and the rest of the Visayas and Mindanao as well,” said Huang.

Among the international brands carried by SSI are Lacoste, Armani Exchange, Bass, Ferragamo, Anne Klein, Nine West, Gucci, Prada, Polo Ralph Lauren, Kenneth Cole, Calvin Klein, Makeroom, Beauty Bar, and Lush.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 11, 2014.

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