Italian fashion designer Giorgio Armani and Dubai's Emaar Properties planned to triple to as many as 30 the number of luxury hotels they developed together on greater-than-expected demand, Emaar's chairman, Mohamed AlAbbar, said yesterday.

Armani's Milan-based company last year granted Emaar, the world's largest property developer by market value, the right to build at least 10 luxury hotels and resorts during the next decade for about $1 billion (R6.08 billion). That may triple to $3 billion.

"If we can do 25 or 30, somewhere around that number, that'll be something we can work with," AlAbbar said in Davos, where he was attending the World Economic Forum. Fashion firms such as Bulgari and Gianni Versace are extending brands beyond clothing and accessories to boost sales.

Bulgari opened a hotel in Milan with Marriott International in 2004 and plans a second in Bali. Versace operates a hotel on Australia's Gold Cost with hotel developer Sunland Group and plans another in Dubai.

An Armani spokesperson said: "There is scope to expand our agreement. We are at the beginning of a long programme, which is also dependent on finding the right locations for the hotels in the most important cities."

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