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    Russia's largest lingerie retailer to debut in Britain - daily

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    LONDON, August 20 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's largest lingerie retailer is set to become the country's first retail chain to open in the United Kingdom, a British business daily said Monday.

    The Financial Times said the up-market lingerie company Wild Orchid will open its first U.K. store at the Bluewater shopping centre in Kent, and has ambitious plans for expansion across the country.

    Wild Orchid plans to open another three stores, under the retail brand name "Vendetta," by the end of 2007 - on Oxford Street and Kensington High Street in London's West End, and in Bromley, south London.

    "The U.K. is one of the most dynamic lingerie markets, and we are very excited about the opportunity to build on the success that Wild Orchid has achieved in Russia," the paper quoted Alexander Fedorov, president of Wild Orchid Group, as saying.

    Founded in 1992, the group now operates a network of 216 stores in Russia and Ukraine under a variety of brand names.

    It has 53 luxury stores branded Wild Orchid, 156 mid-priced outlets named Bustier and seven men's underwear stores, VI Legion. The company has annual sales of 50 million pounds ($100 million).

    Besides Vendetta, the shop in Bluewater will include a range of other brands such as Christian Lacroix, Roberto Cavalli, Dior and Alberta Feretti.

    The retailer hopes to benefit from the strong sales growth in bras and underwear in Britain as the lingerie market is forecast to increase to about 2.9 billion pounds ($5.7 billion) by 2011, from about 2.5 billion pounds ($5 billion) last year.

    According to the retailer, British women buy on average three bras and seven briefs a year, which is the highest per head in Europe.

    The launch in the U.K market will become the first step toward expansion into Europe. The company is already studying opportunities for store openings in Italy and France. It is also considering opening its first store in China next year.

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