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28 Aug, 2007 06:08

UK goes Wild for Russian knickers

Russia's largest lingerie chain Wild Orchid has expanded its business to the UK, becoming the first Russian store to open in Europe. Other Russian companies may follow suit.

Aleksandr Fedorov, Wild Orchid's owner, has no doubts it will be a hit on the British market:

“We are doing something different. We are providing a different shopping experience. We have a unique combination of brands under one roof. Together with these we also sell products that we manufacture,” stated Aleksandr Fedorov.

The choice of location is not accidental.

“It is one of the three biggest markets in Europe along with France and Germany. I think the size of the UK market is £2.5 BLN and I think it is very interesting and dynamic. Also the concept that we are offering is something new and different from what is already in the UK. We think that if we have success in the UK, it will only prove us right and support our intention to go international and become an international company,” said Mr Fedorov.

He has chosen Europe’s biggest shopping centre, Bluewater,  just east of London. The store will operate under the Vendetta brand, offering undergarments from the world’s most famous – and priciest – designers, as well as its own label. Fedorov plans three more stores in London by the end of this year.

In Russia, where Wild Orchid has more than 200 stores, sales are expected to top $US 130 MLN this year, but with the average price per set hovering at around $US 400, this is definitely not for the average Russian.

Whether the company will succeed outside of Russia remains to be seen, but experts say other Russian retailers will follow the scent of Wild Orchid.

“Moving into more competitive but at the same time more interesting markets would make sense for Russian retailers. Markets such as the one in the UK will force these companies to improve their technology, management structure and marketing. This will eventually benefit both producers and consumers,” stressed Yevgeny Cherdakov, Chief Analyst at Svyazbank.

Fedorov is sure his experience on the British market will serve as a springboard for other Russian firms.

“It is not a question of whether they will follow but of when and who they will follow.” added Mr Fedorov.

In addition to the UK, Wild Orchid will open a store in Italy by the end of this year and is exploring opportunities in France and China.