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Osim to Add Stores With Franchise Expansion into Russia, Turkey

Osim International Ltd., Asia’s largest maker of massage chairs, said it’s in talks to expand its international franchise with stores in Turkey and Russia.

Osim’s Chief Executive Officer Ron Sim said he hopes to reach a deal by the end of the year, adding in an e-mailed interview on Aug. 8 that “nothing is closed yet.”

The Turkey and Russia agreements will complement fast-growing economies including China, which Sim said is it’s top market with almost half of its 578 stores worldwide. Osim is planning to add 20 to 30 new outlets each year while closing the ones that aren’t performing, he said.

“The worldwide market is getting bigger and bigger for us,” Sim said.

The expansion into Turkey would give the Singapore-based company access to a country where economic growth has averaged 5.5 percent since 2002. Russia is grappling with a $2 trillion economy that has nearly stalled as foreign capital continues to flow out, making the impact of Western sanctions noticeable for Russian citizens, according to a Treasury Department official.

Sim said Russia’s political developments and economic sanctions won’t affect Osim’s plans for that market. Russian President Vladimir Putin last week decreed that imports of meat, fish, vegetables, cheese and dairy products from the U.S., European Union, Norway, Canada and Australia be stopped, The ban applies to countries that imposed sanctions against Russia for its annexation of Crimea.

“The process will take time but will not impact us at all,” he said. “It is a franchise, and if partners are worried, they will not come in yet.”

Osim’s key markets also include Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore and Malaysia. The shares have climbed 18 percent this year, compared with the 3.8 percent gain in the Singapore benchmark Straits Times Index.

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