Brazilian apparel company Dzarm has opened its flagship Middle East store in Al Ghurair City, Dubai.

The company, which markets men's and women's casual apparel, has entered the Middle Eastern market in partnership with local agent Ninety Nine International.

So far, Ninety Nine International has invested about US$1 million in the first phase of the venture.

"This is our flagship store for the Middle East with two more opening in the next few weeks in Bahrain, Qatar and Kuwait," the company's managing partner Jamal Tahhan said of the Dubai outlet.

"We will have more than 20 stores opened by 2005 all over the region including Lebanon and Jordan."

Currently, exports to the Middle East account for just one per cent of Dzarm holding company Cia Hering's total global exports.

"Our current exports to the Middle East stands at US$200,000 but we hope to increase this to US$1m in our first year of operation in the region," Cia Hering export manager Leandro Vieira said.

"Ninety Nine International has a lot of experience in the (United Arab Emirates) and other Middle East markets and this gives us the confidence that we will reach our target."