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Burberry CEO: China 2012 luxury slowdown maybe not temporary

Burberry CEO Angela Ahrendts leads a discussion at the IHT Heritage Luxury conference in London November 9, 2010. REUTERS/Paul Hackett
Burberry CEO Angela Ahrendts leads a discussion at the IHT Heritage Luxury conference in London November 9, 2010. REUTERS/Paul Hackett

PARIS (Reuters) - China's slowdown last year was perhaps more than just a passing phase for the luxury goods sector, the head of British fashion house Burberry told French newspaper Les Echos in an interview published on Monday.

The Chinese economy's 2013 growth looks set to meet the government's 7.5 percent target, but that would still represent the slowest pace of expansion in 23 years. A recent government crackdown on conspicuous spending has also hit sales of luxury items.

"The Chinese slowdown that we saw last year was maybe not a temporary accident but the new normal," Burberry Chief Executive Angela Ahrendts said in the interview on the newspaper's website.

Shares of Burberry fell 1.2 percent on Monday.

Burberry, which rang alarm bells on a slowdown in China more than a year ago, has closed some stores in the country since it took over its distribution network. Ahrendts said there were 30 "flagship cities" in China the size of London or Paris.

"There are other growth opportunities in the world," she was also quoted as saying, listing India, Latin America and Indonesia, which she said would become "the new China".

(Reporting by Lionel Laurent; Editing by David Goodman)

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