Timberland is planning to enter the China retail market and open 70 outlets in the next five years, according to a recent Wall Street Journal article. The push into China is prompted by the rapid growth of China's middle classes and double-digit sales growth experienced by some of its competitors, it said. Timberland estimates the value of China's total outdoor-apparel and footwear market at $200 million to $300 million a year.
Currently, Asian sales account for only 10 percent of Timberland's revenue, with Japan being the largest market. Michael Harrison, Timberland's senior vice president of international operations, said in the article that Timberland has spent the past two years assessing the Chinese market and finding the right partners for joint ventures.
Since January, the company has opened three stores in China -- one in the southern border town of Shenzhen, one in Beijing and another in the northeastern city of Harbin. Timberland has separate partners for each region.
Like many foreign retailers in China, Timberland is pricing its goods 15 percent to 20 percent higher than in other markets to cover China's high taxes on imported goods as well as other risks peculiar to the Chinese market, such as counterfeiting.Â The company's signature waterproof boot, which retails for $150 in the United States, will be 57 percent pricier in China, at $236. Â