Leading Italian clothes and apparel group Benetton has announced it is to invest $24 million in three new mega-stores in Japan as part of its strategy to advertise its brand image and the quality of its products in major cities worldwide.

Chairman Luciano Benetton said the company was looking to build on the success of its existing mega-stores in Tokyo, Kobe and Hiroshima, Paris, New York, London and Berlin. The Benetton Group currently operates 230 outlets in Japan, including franchise stores.

"We hope to open 20 mega-stores in Japan by 2004," Luciano Benetton told a press conference in Tokyo on Wednesday. His company posted a $266.8m turnover for 2000 in Japan and expects the same sales volume for 2001.