Esprit is set to buy out its Chinese venture partner as it looks to ramp up its presence in that market.

The Hong-Kong listed fashion retailer, which has over 800 owned stores worldwide, will buy out venture partner China Resources Enterprise, paying HK$3.9bn (£310m) for the 51% stake it does not currently own.

Esprit chairman Heinz Krogner said that China was a major market for future growth with its growing middle class developing a taste in recent years for European brands.

“Our growth in Europe is naturally more limited than in China. Esprit is becoming a completely different company with this acquisition,” said Krogner.

Esprit China has over 1,110 shops in 171 cities across China with sales of over HK2.6bn in the year to December 31, 2008.