HONG KONG: International retail brands seeking to expand in Asia-Pacific have been advised to consider Taiwan as the top country for the quality of its infrastructure, low risk and better business environment.

In a report from consultants EC Harris, Japan, Australia, Malaysia and South Korea rounded out the top five countries in which to develop a major retail expansion programme, Inside Retail Asia reported.

Although much focus has been placed on countries like China, India and Indonesia, the report warns that they feature in the bottom half for the ease with which to roll out new stores.

China, for example, is ranked at 23 in the global index, and is only eighth out of 12 countries studied in the Asia Pacific region.

India is ranked last out of 40 markets because of concerns about freedom of trade, corruption and difficulties when doing business.

EC Harris also warned retail brands that they needed to give careful thought to the likelihood of greater risk and reputational damage in developing markets, especially given that issues of compliance and business ethics are receiving much greater prominence since the Bangladesh factory fire in April.

"Retailers must assess and retain the best programme capabilities in order to mitigate risk and reputational damage," said Jonathan Moore, head of property, Asia, at EC Harris.

He concluded: "Competitive advantage will come to those retailers who implement practical solutions throughout the supply chain to expand faster and save money, whilst protecting the brand."

Data sourced from Inside Retail Asia; additional content by Warc staff