LOS ANGELES: Luxury retailers have the widest global reach, operating in an average of 27 countries around the world, compared with a mean total of 16 different nations for the international retail sector as a whole, CB Richard Ellis has found.

The rise of the luxury sector is argued to have been one of the key trends in the marketing industry in recent years, although Bain & Co has predicted sales will decline by 10% this year.

Based on a survey of 280 international retailers in 67 countries, CB Richard Ellis reported that apparel and footwear chains operated in the second-highest number of countries overall.

Some 46% of respondents had stores in Europe, the US and Asia, with the average company opening shops in at least one new country last year.

Luxury retailers launched outlets in an average of 3.4 new markets in 2008, compared with a total of 1.9 among clothing and footwear firms.

The UK was the best-performing nation in international terms, with 58% of the retailers polled present in the country, up 3% year-on-year.

It was followed by Spain, up 1% on an annual basis to 47%, with France in third on 46%, and the UAE in fourth, up 6% and from sixth position last year.

Germany fell two places to fifth despite a 1% increase in retailer presence, while China climbed four places to sixth, with a 5% expansion to 42% in all.

The US remained static at 39%, but fell three places to close out the top ten, behind Russia, Italy and Switzerland.

Emerging markets have become a "major focus of new retail activity," CBRE argues, because of both rising consumer spending levels and the opening of a large number of new retail sites.

This poses the challenge for international retail brands to "expand their international footprint and develop their brand at regional and global levels."

Data sourced from CB Richard Ellis; additional content by WARC staff