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Ferragamo CEO Says China Sales Going ‘Extremely Well’

Salvatore Ferragamo SpA, an Italian shoemaker that has supplied footwear to Marilyn Monroe and Jennifer Lopez, said second-quarter sales in China are going “extremely well” after the company opened new stores.

Revenue in the three months to June is rising faster than the 20 percent increase in the first quarter, helped by the Shanghai Expo, Chief Executive Officer Michele Norsa said in an interview in Hong Kong yesterday.

“If you look at China’s economy, the outlook is very positive,” Norsa said. “The concern is the global economic situation and the fluctuation of the stock market.”

Ferragamo may open as many as eight new stores next year in China, where the economy, the world’s third-biggest, expanded by almost 11.9 percent in the first quarter. The number of Chinese worth at least 10 million yuan ($1.5 million) rose 6.1 percent this year to 875,000, according to a Hurun Wealth Report.

The world’s most populous nation offers the “best opportunities” compared with Europe and the U.S., Norsa said. He maintained an annual revenue target of “double-digit” growth for China, higher than a forecast of a “single-digit” increase in worldwide sales he made in January.

The company will have 44 stores in China by the end of this year, up from nine in 2008, he said. Among its openings this year was one in Shanghai, its biggest in Asia outside Japan, and outlets in Suzhou, Hangzhou and Guangzhou.

Profitable ‘Projects’

Ferragamo hasn’t decided where it will locate the shops planned for next year.

“All the projects are profitable in China,” Norsa said. Having a presence in the big Chinese cities “also has a positive impact on stores in Hong Kong, Macau and everywhere else,” because of the rising incomes of Chinese customers.

Sales at the store opened in December at the Venetian Macao casino are “very impressive,” he said.

The company recently added two shops in Singapore, its first new openings in the city in six years, Norsa said, and may open two in Jakarta later this year.

The company may also look to openings in Taiwan if China goes ahead with a plan to allow individual tourists to visit the island, the CEO said. Visitors from mainland China to Taiwan may surpass those from Japan for the first time on record as relaxed rules spur travel to an island off limits to mainlanders for 60 years.

Norsa has run the privately held, Florence-based company since 2006. The shoemaker is owned by the widow of founder Salvatore Ferragamo and other family members.

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