The new entrant comes at the expense of the loc' />

Australian women's fashion retailer City Chic has opened a chain of 17 stores across the country.

The new entrant comes at the expense of the local Principals chain, which was owned by former Farmers Deka managing director Wayne Walden and his family.

Earlier this year, City Chic owner Specialty Fashion Group bought the leases of the 15 Principals stores but not the brand itself.

It opened two of the plus-size City Chic stores in Auckland last year to test the water and received a "phenomenal" response, general manager Marc Miller said.

"That gave us the confidence to spread our wings in New Zealand." It opened nine stores last month and another six this month.

The plus-size market had been under-shopped in Australia and New Zealand, Miller said. "Nobody is offering a plus-size female fashion-forward product."

City Chic was aimed at women aged 18-35. Its product was made in China and priced at about the same point in the market as the Australian Sportsgirl brand, Miller said.

At this stage, the company will stick to the current 17 stores and see how that works but it has been approached by other shopping centres to open more stores.

Specialty Fashion Group also owns the Katies, Millers, Queenspark, Autograph and Crossroads retail brands.

Meanwhile, Principals director Stephen Green said the Principals brand had been sold to another company and the clothing line would be relaunched through a national retail chain in November.

Green owned Principals with his wife Jane Walden and the Walden family. He said the fashion retailing business had been difficult in recent times. The family had a range of other businesses and it was time to put energy into those.