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Asics sets sights on China with Onitsuka Tiger hub in Shanghai

Sneaker producer to accelerate store openings in world's second-largest economy

Onitsuka Tiger is a brand of Japanese footwear manufacturer Asics. (Photo by Kaisuke Ohta)

SHANGHAI -- Asics opened the doors to its Onitsuka Tiger flagship store Friday in Shanghai, the first of its kind in mainland China for the vintage-style sneaker brand as the Japanese company steps up its push into the world's second-largest economy.

The Onitsuka Tiger brand believes a big store in Shanghai can play the role of a trendsetter for other regions, as an analysis of sales and customers has shown that the city attracts many tourists from all parts of Asia as well as Europe.

The new location boasts 470 sq. meters of space, making it one of the brand's largest outlets in the world, offering a lineup of 140 pairs of shoes and 175 items of clothing. It also includes a dedicated space for children's footwear, the first such feature for the brand, which is targeting families and the growing middle class in China.

Asics also runs a flagship in downtown Hong Kong that opened last year.

"We're looking to develop the Chinese operation into a 100 billion yen business comparable to those in the U.S., Europe and Japan," President Yasuhito Hirota said, indicating plans for more store openings in China for both Asics and Onitsuka Tiger brands.

The greater China region was responsible for generating 18.5 billion yen ($170 million) in Onitsuka Tiger sales, or 40% of the brand's global total. Asics, which moved part of product planning and development to Shanghai last year, expects more than 40 billion yen in sales in greater China this year.

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