RIGA - Latvia's Stenders luxury soap and bath product manufacturer plans on further expanding its operations in China by opening two new stores by the end of 2008. The franchise company also plans to open an additional 10 stores in China in 2009.
In 2009, Stenders plans to open stores in a variety of Chinese cities. Maija Abolina, company spokeswoman said that this is only the beginning.
"If sales continue to be good, we may expand and open new stores in Hong Kong or Bangkok," said Abolina.
Plans for expansion into the Chinese market have been in the works since May 2007, reports the Foreign Ministry. The Latvian Embassy in China had hosted a reception promoting the Latvian brand, supported by the Foreign Ministry and the Stenders Soap Company. The event was planned to draw attention to new economic relations between the countries.
The first Stenders in China opened its doors in April 2007, in the World Trade Center in Beijing.
The company is set to introduce the new stores in early December in Beijing and Shanghai, bringing the new total of the recently opened stores in China to 13.
Representatives of the Chinese franchise companies Yang Gang and Zhao Yang told the press that the price of the production will be higher in China than in Latvia as transportation costs and import taxes will have to be covered, but people are buying these products which are unique in the Chinese market.
At a press conference for the opening of the newest stores, Stenders foreign trade chief Ieva Eglite told reporters that sales are constantly growing, and that the new stores in the Asian market might boost sales by 50 percent in 2009.
"This year's turnover with partners has reached 350,000 euros and it might grow by almost 200,000 euros," she said.
For the last year, Stenders has been pushing for more territory, and Asia is only their latest goal.
Up next, Eglite said that "Denmark at present is a new territory. An agreement has been signed and a store will be opened during the first half of next year."
Last year Stendera Ziepju Fabrika reported 3.351 million lats (4.8 million euros) in sales, a 35.3 percent boost up from sales reported in 2006. Company profit also rose by 13.2 percent to 551,200 lats.
The Latvian founders of the company began production in 2001 and utilize traditional methods of soap making by boiling, free from glycerin.
Currently there are 14 Stenders stores operating in Latvia with 146 stores in neighboring Estonia, Lithuania and Western Europe.