I can't find it now, but there was some debate on the site in the last couple of weeks about Lego stores in China and whether they were legitimate or not ... I was pretty certain that they weren't 'genuine' LEGO stores (there is no reference to LEGO have stores outside of UK/US/Germany/Canada/Denmark in any of their current corporate documents), but suspected they might have been licensed stores - owned & operated by a 3rd party but with LEGOs blessing (effectively as a franchise); I know these sorts of stores existed in the past in the UK, for example.
So after a bit of digging I came across this ...http://english.cri.cn/2946/2007/09/12/[email protected]
... which seems to show, at the very least, that there was a legitimate LEGO store in Beijing back in 2007.
However, a bit more digging found this in the LEGO corporate annual report for 2007 ...
" ... In China the first LEGO shop opened in Beijing in cooperation with the chain store Kidsland ..."
... so it isn't a 'proper' LEGO Brand Store (i.e. not owned or operated by LEGO, none of the staff are LEGO employees), but a licensed store.
( Check it for yourself on page 9 ...http://cache.lego.com/upload/contentTemplating/AboutUsFactsAndFiguresContent/otherfiles/downloadD1AC784E0C5E8AE82B2B003CD88C4464.pdf
It also mentions in the 2007 Annual Report that the deal in China was based on a concept already in use in Japan. And I've found references to 'LEGO Stores' in Russia, which I assume are also based on a similar concept.
Anyone got additional details on these 'off the books' LEGO stores, or aware of any others elsewhere on the planet?