In a move that will expand its business from production to retail, Belgian lingerie maker Van de Velde is to open 100 shops in Germany, France and Italy over the next five years. The shops will operate on a franchise basis under the name of the company's most successful range, Marie Jo.

An initial investment of 6-8 million Belgian francs ($137,000-$183,000) is required to set up each shop. But if the venture is successful, the company expects to double its sales by 2006.

Van de Velde will create a separate division to deal with expansion processes.
The company also said in a statement that it was no longer interested in buying French lingerie manufacturer Lejaby.

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Hosiery, Lingerie & Underwear