US fashion giant Forever 21 is on the verge of signing its first deal for a UK store in Westfield Stratford as it unveils its intentions to build a major European presence.

The fast fashion retailer, pitched at a similar market to New Look, is understood to be close to securing a site at the Stratford centre, which is due to open in 2011.

As well as being a first deal for Forever 21, it would be a first letting for Stratford beyond its anchors Marks & Spencer, John Lewis and Waitrose. The developer has stepped up its leasing efforts
for the scheme, which sits adjacent to the Olympic stadium, over recent months.

Although Stratford is expected to be Forever 21’s first UK deal, it will not necessarily be the first UK store to open, as the retailer is expected to debut here by next summer, and is known to have considered sites on Oxford Street and Regent Street, and also held talks on a store in Covent Garden.

The retailer has hired property agent Harper Dennis Hobbs to seek sites across the UK and Europe. It is looking at stores in UK cities including Manchester, Birmingham and Glasgow – where it is said to be interested in taking the Borders store – and European centres including Paris, Milan, Munich, Amsterdam, Vienna, Madrid and Barcelona.

Speaking at this year’s World Retail Congress independent adviser to Forever 21 Christopher Lee said that having a presence on Oxford Street was part of Forever 21’s plans for the UK, and that it would be looking for a big-box flagship.

The fashion brand, which has more than 500 US stores and operates in 14 countries including China, Japan, Jordan and Kuwait, wants to acquire 30,000 sq ft to 50,000 sq ft stores.

Harper Dennis Hobbs director James Ebel, who is leading the search, said: “This is an exciting young US fashion brand that is the hottest ticket in town. The timing is perfect for  Forever 21 to hit Europe.”

Forever 21 was unavailable for comment.