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LOS ANGELES-Guess? Inc. will expand all of its retail concepts this year, even as it has entered new markets in Asia, executives said at its first-quarter conference call. In North America, the company will open 40 more stores in addition to the eight opened in the first quarter. The new units will be spread across its different concepts, including Guess, Marciano, G by Guess and its footwear chain.

“In the last seven years, we have completely changed from a licensing business to being retail driven in North America, Europe and Asia,” said Paul Marciano, CEO.

Expansion also will take place in Europe and Asia through Guess’ partners in the regions. Since January 1, Guess’ partners have opened 79 new units outside the US, and the company is on track to open 108 units by year-end.

The company opened 10 units in China several weeks ago, presenting challenges but “an enormous opportunity,” Marciano said. Another 14 stores will be open by the end of the year. “Japan also will be a very big driver for the next three to five years.”

The company continues to look at expanding the brand, as well, though much further down the line. Guess has considered developing a home furnishings chain, as well as a lingerie concept.

“But, if we do it, we want to do it in a proper way. With lingerie, we are still debating whether to do it ourselves or as a licensee,” Marciano said. “We are not going to rush into anything. We have so many things to take care of that need our time and attention.”

For the first quarter of fiscal 2008, Guess reported record net earnings of $35.5 million, an increase of 71.9% over the prior year. Revenues grew 42.3% to $377.9 million. Comparable-store stales rose 13.6% compared with 2006. The Company operated 336 retail stores in the US and Canada at the end of the first quarter of fiscal 2008 versus 316 stores a year earlier.

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