* Company a mass-market player in China
* Targeting wealthier customers in the West
* May open a store on New York's Fifth Avenue
By Mohammed Abbas and Alice Baghdjian
LONDON, March 14 Chinese clothing giant Bosideng's first foreign store in London may not be profitable in the near term, but the company says it is already ramping up plans to open another in New York.
With China no byword for luxury fashion, the British arm of Bosideng International Holdings is striving to change perceptions and improve awareness of its high-end brand.
The company is a mass market player at home, where it has 8,000 retail outlets. In the West, it is seeking with its wool blazers and dark suits to place itself alongside brands such as Hugo Boss and Ted Baker.
Wayne Zhu, chief executive of Bosideng's British operations, said the 35 million pound ($53 million) store in an upmarket district of London's West End had been well received since it opened last year.
"We're at the early stage, but we did see some initial success. Our designs were well received by the industry and customers and we have seen sales picking up month by month," Zhu said on the sidelines of a China-Britain business conference.
British retail sales grew at their strongest annual rate in almost two years last month, the jump bolstered partly by demand for big-ticket items, while clothing sales rose at their fastest pace in five months, industry data showed.
Experts see growing interest in niche luxury brands and even big names such as Gucci are doing well, with owner PPR last month posting forecast-beating annual profits.
Bosideng wants to enlist a brand ambassador in Britain and is looking at the fields of film, music and sport.
Zhu said the company was looking at long-term goals rather than immediate profits and that UK sales so far had been in line with expectations.
"It's a strategic move for the company. When we made a decision it's to look at the future, the next five to 10 years, not the next one or two years, in which the store may not be profitable," he said.
"The next potential is New York. The New York office is actively looking for property ... potentially Fifth Avenue," Zhu said.