BANGKOK: Jim Thompson, one of the largest luxury brands in Thailand by revenue, intends to expand into Europe and other top retail destinations before making a move into the Chinese market, the company’s chief executive has revealed.

Gerald Mazzalovo, who has been in post for two years, has presented a plan to The Thai Silk Co., the firm’s owner, to establish flagship stores over the next five years in London, Paris, New York, Singapore, Hong Kong and Shanghai – in that order, the Bangkok Post reported.

It follows this week’s opening of another flagship store in the Siam Paragon shopping mall in Bangkok, which integrates digital technology, such as touchscreen catalogues and animated representations of the company’s designs.

Even though Jim Thompson did not even have a website until two years ago, it now plans to open its first online store in Thailand and then set up others abroad as soon as its physical retail locations are up and running.

Regarding its international plans, Mazzalovo told the Bangkok Post that Jim Thompson will move to Europe first in order to build a reputation as a global brand before approaching the lucrative Chinese market.

“The Chinese market is much more likely to welcome the brand when it has established a name in Europe, rather than only in Southeast Asia,” he said.

“We have the ambition of going global because we have a lot of the prerequisites needed, including over 70 years of heritage, know-how and historical anecdotes,” he added, in passing reference to the company’s American founder.

Jim Thompson, a graduate of Princeton, was a designer who co-founded The Thai Silk Co. in the late 1940s after, among other things, serving in the US Office of Strategic Services, the wartime predecessor of the CIA.

He famously and mysteriously disappeared in the Cameron Highlands of Malaysia in 1967, although his legacy includes widespread recognition that he helped to save the Thai silk industry from extinction.

Mazzalovo said Jim Thompson’s identity as a Southeast Asian brand could be one of its strongest selling points in international markets, while also being able to match the quality of its rivals at a 20% to 30% price discount.

“There are a lot of French and Italian fashion brands, but how many Thai fashion brands do you know that are on that level?” he asked. “Southeast Asian culture is very interesting to develop in, and has a very unique offering in the business.”

Data sourced from Bangkok Post; additional content by WARC staff