Changzhou, a city in China's Jiangsu Province has designs on becoming a fashion centre in the next five years.

The city is already a major hub for textile and garment production for customers such as Puma, adidas and Polo, and is the base for 339 large-scale manufacturers who between them generate annual sales of around 17 billion yuan ($2.1 billion). Each year these companies produce an average of 25,000 garments, 80 per cent of which are exported to Japan, Europe and the US.

But it now plans to embark on a programme of strategic restructuring. Speaking at a press conference last week, vice-mayor Wang Zhengping said: "By 2003, we'll turn major garment enterprises into brand-name manufacturers, and by 2005, we'll become a fashion centre with abundant professionals and brand names."