Philip Green Starts Hunt for First Topshop China Stores

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LONDON, United Kingdom — Fashion chain Topshop, part of Britain’s Arcadia fashion empire, is looking into opening its first stores in mainland China to tap demand in the world’s second-largest economy, billionaire owner Philip Green said.

Topshop is looking at opening outlets in the capital of Beijing and in Shanghai, said Green, who is meeting landlords this week to scout for locations.

“We will do it tomorrow if we find the right two locations,” Green said in an interview with Bloomberg Television in Hong Kong today, a day ahead of the opening of the first Topshop in the city.

Green in December said he plans to step up investment of the trendy retailer in the U.S. and to double the size of the Topshop and Topman business globally within the next four years. In China, the billionaire would benefit from the government’s plans to drive growth by boosting domestic demand and reducing reliance on exports and investment.

The Monaco-based businessman sold a 25 percent stake in Topshop and Topman last year to private equity company Leonard Green & Partners LP raising 500 million pounds ($766 million) to finance expansion.

US, Germany

Green entered the U.S. in 2009 with a Topshop store in Manhattan and has plans for 20 outlets in the country, adding to concession spaces inside Nordstrom department stores.

Topshop is also “actively talking” to landlords in Germany for stores in Europe’s biggest economy, Green said. The company will be doing a trial in Berlin, Munich and Stuttgart with a local department store, said Justin Cooke, chief marketing officer at Topshop.

The 61-year-old billionaire said Topshop is “in discussion” on a safety accord for factories in Bangladesh. A garment complex collapsed in the South Asian nation in April, killing more than 1,000 people in the country’s worst industrial disaster. He didn’t give further details.

Hennes & Mauritz AB and Inditex SA, Europe’s two largest clothing retailers, signed a legally binding accord last month and pledged at least $60 million over five years to monitor safety in Bangladesh factories. Wal-Mart and Gap Inc. haven’t signed the European agreement, and their plan of working on a separate initiative has resulted in criticism from some labor- rights activists.

Arcadia Group owns U.K. fashion retailers such as Dorothy Perkins, Miss Selfridge and Burton. Green has a net worth of about $6.1 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaire’s index.

By: Stephanie Wong, Susan Li; Editors: Stephanie Wong, Anjali Cordeiro