Esprit Holdings Limited opened its megastore in Regent Street, London yesterday - the first step in a plan to re-enter the European market.

Its second UK outlet, located at Bluewater Mall in Kent and covering 1,400 sq ms, will open in September. Esprit then plans to launch 18 stores in Europe, including new operations in Austria. Two specialty shops for shoes and accessories are also planned.

"These actions highlight our efforts in aggressively expanding business globally. The megastore concept has achieved impressive results in various parts of the world and showcases Esprit's quality, style and taste," said Michael Ying, chairman and chief executive officer of Esprit Holdings Limited.

Heinz Krogner, executive director and CEO of Esprit's European operations said: "We are committed to the European market which is the major impetus for our growth. We have identified at least 40 cities with a population of more than 400,000 in the European markets that have the potential to accommodate our megastore retailing concept. The opening of megastore in Regent Street is just the beginning.

"Our retail store expansion complements our continuous growth in wholesale/franchise business in Europe. Esprit group's capital expenditure for this financial year will exceed HK$500m ($64m) which is fully funded from our operating cash flow," said John Poon, executive director and group chief financial officer of Esprit Holdings Limited.

Esprit Holdings Limited is a constituent stock of the MSCI Hong Kong Index, and its subsidiaries are engaged in the retail and wholesale distribution of quality lifestyle fashion products under the globally recognized ESPRIT brand. It operates more than 500 directly managed retail outlets and has over 8,000 wholesale customers, and its products are sold in more than 40 countries worldwide.