Harry Winston to Expand Jewelry-Store Chain in Asia

Harry Winston Diamond Corp., the miner and retailer formerly known as Aber Diamond Corp., plans to further expand retail operations in Asia, President Thomas J. O'Neill said.

``We will continue to focus and concentrate our expansion in the Asian area,'' O'Neill said today in an interview. Harry Winston (HWD) opened its first store in Hong Kong in September and plans to open one in Nagoya, Japan, this week, Carson Glover, a spokesman, said in a phone interview.

In June, Harry Winston opened an outlet in Beijing, helping to lift the Toronto-based company's sales from diamond retailing by 41 percent to $68.2 million in the fiscal quarter ended July 31, from a year earlier, the company said in a statement in September. About a third of Harry Winston's sales in that quarter were in Asia, the company said. Harry Winston also has stores in the U.S. and Europe.

``The new demand that comes out of Asia is offsetting any sort of slackness there might be in the American market,'' Chief Executive Officer Robert Gannicott said in an interview on Toronto-based Business News Network. Harry Winston is considering opening stores in Singapore and Shanghai, he said.

The company, owner of 40 percent of the Diavik Diamond Mine in Canada's Northwest Territories, began trading under the Harry Winston name on the New York Stock Exchange today after transferring from the Nasdaq Stock Market.

O'Neill reiterated that Harry Winston would welcome an opportunity to buy the 60 percent of Diavik that it doesn't already own from Rio Tinto Group. (RIO)

``If they ever would want to sell their piece of the mine, we would be interested in discussing it with them,'' O'Neill said.

Harry Winston has a first right of refusal on Rio's investment in the diamond mine, Gannicott said last month.

Harry Winston fell 2 cents to $38.80 at 4:23 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. The shares have risen 5.8 percent this year.

To contact the reporters on this story: Christopher Donville in Vancouver at cjdonville@bloomberg.net; Charles Stein in Boston at cstein4@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Kevin Orland at korland@bloomberg.net.

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