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Muji-owner Ryohin Keikaku sees no impact from China turmoil

TOKYO, Aug 24 (Reuters) – Japanese retailer Ryohin Keikaku Co Ltd has boosted its sales in China by nearly a fifth this month and plans to accelerate store openings there, unfazed by worries about the world’s No.2 economy that have sparked a global stock selloff.

Satoru Matsuzaki, president of the Muji store operator, said his company will open a flagship store in Beijing next year and wants to increase its pace of China store openings to 50 per year from 2017, from the current 30 to 35.

"Chinese same-store sales have stayed solid also in August, up almost 20 percent year-on-year," he said in an interview, asked whether there had been any impact from the recent stock market rout and growing uncertainty surrounding China’s economy.

"Those with high-end goods have been affected, but Mujirushi Ryohin hasn’t seen any impact, and we don’t see this changing," Matsuzaki, who took the helm in May, told Reuters at the company’s headquarters in Tokyo.

Matsuzaki’s comments came as Chinese stocks plunged almost 9 percent on Monday, adding to an 11 percent slide last week.

Muji, short for Mujirushi Ryohin, or "no-brand quality products", offers a variety of household items as well as consumer products and basic apparel.

Ryohin Keikaku is stepping up the chain’s expansion in China, its biggest territory outside Japan, as it looks for growth outside its mature domestic market. As of end-May it had 128 stores in China.

Helped by strong China sales in its March-May first quarter, Ryohin Keikaku raised its full-year guidance last month, forecasting revenue of 296 billion yen ($2.5 billion) and recurring profit of 32.3 billion yen for the year through February 2016.

The company also wants to increase its focus on the U.S. market, where it just opened a store in California and will open a flagship store in New York in October, bringing its total there to 11.

"If I was asked what our next market would be after China where we have potential, I would like to say America," Matsuzaki said.

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