A.T. Kearney: China top market for expansion by apparel retailers

China -- China once again topped the A.T. Kearney’s 2013 Retail Apparel Index, which measures the market readiness of developing economies for international apparel retailers to enter. Other compelling expansion opportunities are offered by a number of countries from Latin America and the Middle East.

According to the Index, which identifies the top 10 developing countries ranked in the A.T. Kearney Global Retail Development Index in terms of market attractiveness, retail development, and country risk for clothing retail, China’s strong showing is due to its market size and strong growth in clothing sales.  The rise of e-commerce, a boom in fast fashion, and the evolution of the luxury market have all shaped China’s apparel market.

“In most emerging markets, e-commerce is less than one percent of total sales: in China, it is six percent which is higher than in the United States,” noted Althea Peng, A.T. Kearney partner and study co-author. “More than three-quarters of online sales in China are in apparel.”

 Over the last year several fast fashion retailers have aggressively expanded in China, according to the report, including Uniqlo. The Japanese retailer opened 65 stores in China in fiscal year 2012, bringing its total count to 145, and it plans to add 100 stores a year to reach 1,000 stores. H&M opened 52 stores in 2012 and Zara opened 37 stores. Gap has plans to open 35 stores in 2013.
Latin America makes a prominent showing in the Apparel Index, led by Chile (#3), Brazil (#5), and Mexico (#9).  Apparel retailers have aggressive expansion plans for the region. Gap, which currently has 36 Latin American stores (including 28 in Mexico and four in Chile), plans to open 30 more by 2014, including its first Brazilian store in 2013. Zara has 150 stores in Latin America (56 of which are in Mexico, and 39 in Brazil), including 12 new stores built in 2012, the report said.
The Middle East remains an attractive retail apparel market with the United Arab Emirates (UAE, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia (#6) respectively ranking 2nd, 4th and 6th place in the Index. Many retailers are testing their operations in the UAE before expanding to other Middle East countries due to its ease of doing business, sizeable retail segment, large expat community, and tourism.

The top 10 developing markets for expansion by apparel retailers are:

  1. China
  2. UAE
  3. Chile
  4. Kuwait
  5. Brazil
  6. Saudi Arabia
  7. Russia
  8. Malaysia
  9. Mexico
  10. Turkey

To read the full 2012 GRDI Report that includes the 2013 Apparel Index, go to grdi.atkearney.com.


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