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OmniaLuo Set to Put Chinese Brand on U.S. Map

American and European retailers are rushing to enter the exploding Chinese market, but OmniaLuo, a Shenzhen-based women's specialty chain, is setting its sights on the U.S.

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NEW YORK — American and European retailers are rushing to enter the exploding Chinese market, but OmniaLuo, a Shenzhen-based women's specialty chain, is setting its sights on the U.S.

While continuing to grow its business at home, OmniaLuo is working toward establishing itself in the U.S. After completing a reverse merger in October, the company was listed on Nasdaq under the trading symbol OLOU.OB. The stock on Tuesday closed at $1.40 in over-the-counter trading, unchanged. Its 52-week range is $1.10 to $2.15.

Michelle Liu, the company's American-educated chief financial officer who received an M.B.A. from Wharton; Christine Luo, the sister of OmniaLuo's chief designer, Cindy Luo, and Liping Zhang, a public relations officer, held a round of meetings here with investors last month. The company is planning to stage a runway show for Cindy Luo in Bryant Park during New York Fashion Week in September. "We have submitted an application for a runway show in one of the tents," said Liu. "We're trying to get an afternoon slot."

OmniaLuo, which posted sales of $7.5 million last year, is projected to double its revenues and net income this year. The retailer has 202 stores throughout China and expects to have 250 units in operation by yearend. The majority of OmniaLuo's existing units are coowned with a franchisee and deliver a 40 to 50 percent profit margin. Once the store count reaches 300, the company will begin opening stores in the U.S. with a partner, Liu said.

Cindy Luo and her design team create 1,600 styles a year, 500 of which are earmarked for mass production. "When we expand in the U.S. we'll be looking at the higher end," Liu said. She pointed to a wool and cashmere scarf for $400 as an example. Prices for OmniaLuo's spring collection range from $40 to $200. "We try to incorporate a lot of design into the fabric," Liu said. "It adds value and makes it more difficult to copy." Clothing and accessories feature handmade elements such as fabric brooches, crochet trims and passementerie embroidery.

"We have an advantage with our cost structure," Liu said. "This black wool and silk scarf with jewels is $70. The cost to [produce] it is less than $10, excluding marketing costs."
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