A South African retail tycoon wants to take on the market's biggest names. Christo Wiese - South Africa’s fourth-richest person with a fortune of about $5.7 billion - has announced plans to open 500 stores in China to support his New Look retail brand over the next three years. The move is expected to catapult the British brand into the same league in China as the world’s top fashion chains, Spain’s Inditex and Sweden’s H&M.
According to Reuters, Wiese's plan is to make most of the clothes in China to ensure they cater to local tastes and can get to stores quickly – a strategy similar to the one successfully pursued in Europe by Zara-owner Inditex. The arrival of New Look – and its local sourcing strategy – poses a new risk for the likes of H&M and Inditex, already suffering from slower growth in China, fierce competition for real estate and the cost of investing in ecommerce.
This will not be New Look's first foray into the Far East. The brand is currently available on two of largest e-commerce sites in China, Alibaba's Tmall platform and Jon rival D.com. In addition to its impending 300 brick-and-mortar stores, Wiese says New Look will also adopt its own Cina-specific e-commerce site "in the next 12 to 18 months."