JOHANNESBURG, Aug 12 (Reuters) - South African clothing retailer The Foschini Group (TFG) is planning two chains of stores aimed at children, seeking new areas of growth amid a weak economy and growing competition in womenswear.
The retailer will open its first Soda Bloc store with a focus on fashion conscious 9 to 16 year-olds in Cape Town on Thursday, and wants to roll out another 10 before Christmas, Chief Executive Doug Murray told reporters on Wednesday.
The Foschini Group has in recent years tried to lesson its reliance on women's fashion as global heavyweights such as Inditex's Zara, Topshop and Hennes & Mauritz began moving in on South African retailers' turf.
The group has instead boosted its sports and furniture offering and in January bought British fashion group Phase Eight.
But in South Africa it still sees room for growth in childrenswear, with Murray describing Soda Bloc as a "first step".
TFG is also considering standalone Foschini kids' stores, aimed at a pre-teen market it is missing out on, said Murray.
It could make another announcement about an acquisition or a partnership in this market segment in the next six weeks, said Chief Financial Officer Anthony Thunström.
The group was beaten to the chase last year when rival Truworths International bought the closely held Earthchild chain.
TFG's share price has risen about 45 percent over the past eighteen months, but has slumped more than 20 percent since the end of May when the group's earnings missed estimates. (Reporting by TJ Strydom; Editing by Mark Potter)