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City Report Tianjin

As one of the 4 municipalities directly under the control of the Chinese central government and not belonging to a province, Tianjin lies in the Bohai Economic Rim, 137 km southeast of Beijing, the capital. The State Council has positioned Tianjin as the economic center of the Circum-Bohai Sea region, an ecological city with an international harbour, and incorporated the development of Binhai into national strategy.

In the list of top 50 cities with most investment potential in China in 2012, created by a number of global economic institutions, Tianjin ranked 4th after Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong. In the ranking list of city economic development ability, issued by the Chinese economic forum, Tianjin was the 6th among all Chinese cities, and 5th in Urban Competitiveness.


Tianjin is the birthplace of the first television, telephone, camera, automobile engine and first watch in China. Tianjin Seagull Watch is a Chinese brand known for producing the country’s first mechanical watch in the 1950s. It introduced its first luxury watch collection in 2010 priced at 1.68 million RMB but has only sold two of these watches since that time.

Since the Binhai new area has become a national experimental reform district, the city began adopting a strategy of heavy industry development. Currently, electronics, cars, advanced equipment manufacturing, petrochemicals, biomedicine, new energy and materials, and aerospace are the focus of the city. According to national statistics, the total output value of Tianjin in 2012 was 1,288 Billion RMB, a 13.8% increase over the previous year.

Tianjin enjoys many advantages as an investment environment and open market. It is a convenient port with good logistic services, attractive investment policies, and reportedly efficient government services.

Government policy

The government of Tianjin has offered incentives to enhance the development of the luxury retail industry in the city in recent years. The Binhai new area has attracted international brands and department stores with the support and lead of the commercial development teams in Tianjin.


Tianjin has very important past, and played a pivotal role in modern and contemporary Chinese history. It used to be an important port for trade with foreign countries and the key base for the ‘Westernisation Movement’ in China, which started from 1861 and brought in advanced technology from western countries and as a result created the first batch of modern enterprises. In 1860, Tianjin was occupied by English, French and allied forces and was forced to open to the outside world, the foreign powers then established concessions in Tianjin one after another. Today, there are some streets in the city full of old architecture of foreign design.

Tianjin Goldin Metropolitan Polo Club

Opened in 2010 as the first, and only private polo club in the city. Goldin Metropolitan Polo Club lies in the Binhai Hi- tech Industrial Development Area, and is made up of 2 polo fields to international standards, one indoor stadium and a stable that can house 150 horses, as well as a luxury hotel with 167 rooms. Membership is by acceptance only, and fees range from 380,000 to 10 million RMB.

Luxury retail distribution

Commercial hubs in Tianjin are concentrated in five areas, those positioned as high-end are located in the following districts. The Binjiang Road lies in Heping district, which is the most prosperous and dense commercial area. Heping Road is also the longest pedestrian street in China. The established Sparkle Roll Luxury World, and the Isetan department store, in which Hermes had a store that they closed, leaving the Tianjin market.

Another commercial hub is Xiaobailou, which encompasses high-end office buildings and luxury malls like Hisense Plaza. Crossing Heping district, are Hexi and Hedong districts. The Friendship Road in Hexi district is well known for the Friendship Commercial Building in the luxury sector. Also on this street can be found the Galaxy International Shopping Mall which opened last year. Taking advantage of its port location and policy support from the government, Binhai new area has attracted the attention of luxury brands and consumers due to its fast commercial development, and the luxury mall G•Yuanbao International Shopping Center that opened last year.

Hisense Plaza

Located in the CBD, Hisense Plaza is known as ‘the Top Atrium in Tianjin’, covering 58,000 sqm and integrating a variety of retail formats such as a high-end department store, restaurant, beauty salon and supermarket. Current tenants are Gucci, Breguet, Salvatore Ferragamo, Cartier, Fendi, Emporio Armani, Bottega Veneta, Audemars Piguet, Ermenegildo Zegna, Prada, Max Mara, Versace, Longines, Kenzo, Dior, DAKS, and Givenchy.

Youyi Gallery

Originally the British Consulate in Tianjin, the offices of the Kailuan Mining Bureau(1878) and the former residence of Nathan Byrnethe Chairman of Kailuan Mining Bureau that have all been combined and refurbished. The overall design of the Youyi Gallery embodies a British style, and covers over 50,000 sqm and contains, flagship stores, exclusive stores and concept stores all covering 150 to 200 sqm, accounting for more than 80% of the overall area. Resident luxury brands include Bally, Roland Mount, Givenchy, Hugo Boss, Mont Blanc, Rolex, Tudor, Chopard, Harry Winston, Baume & Mercier, Quinting, Van Cleef & Arpels, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Omega, Cartier, Qeelin, Corneliani, and Enzo.

Friendship Commercial Building

The first ever high-end department store in Tianjin that was redeveloped in 2007, the new Friendship Commercial building has expanded to 40,000 sqm, known for its elegant shopping environment and service, it is a landmark in Tianjin. The luxury tenants include Givenchy, De Beers, Jaegar-Le Coultre, Bulgari, Burberry, TOD’S, Louis Vuitton, Dior for men and women, Versace, Celine, Ferragamo, Burberry, Armani, Zegna, Hugo Boss, Escada, Ralph Lauren, Bulu Ti, Marc Jacobs, Dunhill, Bally, Paul&Shark, Connery, Tiffany, Mont Blanc, Piaget, Vacheron Constantin, IWC, and Rolex.

The Galaxy International Shopping Mall

Opened on 1st Sept. 2012, the Galaxy International Shopping Mall is based on a multi-function format integrating shopping, dining, entertainment, leisure and culture. It has attracted many international brands including Balenciaga, Gucci, Prada, Miu Miu, Bottega Veneta, Dior, Giorgio Armani, Givenchy, Chaumet, Cerruti, Panerai, Paul&Shark, Jimmy Choo, Fendi, Loewe, Tiffany&Co., Daks, Marc Jacobs, Saint Laurent, Brunello Cucinelli, Marni, Moncler, Ports 1961, Kenzo, BMW Lifestyle, Ferrari, Diada, Kent&Curwen, I.T China, and Tumi

Tianjin Sparkle Roll Luxury World

Tianjin Sparkle Roll Luxury World was officially opened in August 2012. The shopping complex is located in the prime location of Tianjin World Financial Center, occupying an area of 3,000 square meters, combining top-tier luxury products from ultra-luxury automobiles and jewellery, to watches, and red wines housed in elegant and luxurious settings. Brands housed at the shopping complex include super luxury automobiles, Bentley and Rolls-Royce, super deluxe watches, Richard Mille, DeWitt and Parmigiani, and top-tier jewellery from Boucheron and Royal Asscher.

G•Yuanbao International Shopping Center

Opened on 26th September 2012, G•Yuanbao International Shopping Center covers an area of 40,000 sqm and is positioned as a high-end and fashion destination. It houses both international luxury and domestic brands that include Gieves&Hawkes, Kent&Curwen, Zegna Sport, Hugo Boss, Armani Collezioni, Cerruiti.1881, Max Mara Weekend, Versace Collection, Coach, Aquascutum, Rado, Rolex, Tagheuer, Longines, Tudor, Tissot, Omega, and Enzo.

Consumer attitudes

As a close neighbor of Beijing, Tianjin enjoys strong governmental support for the development of its high-end services and luxury consumption, which is a growing phenomenon among the citizens. However, given its close proximity and convenient transportation, the local luxury consumption is focused on the capital. According to luxury retailers in the city, store turnover mainly relies on the individual one-off purchasers rather than repeat customers who regularly buy from the same store. It is understood that regular customers with VIP cards actually account for only 4% to 5% of the consumers in luxury stores, bringing in less than 10% of the turnover, while 90% of the turnover is derived from consumers of all ages and those who are buying gifts. “There are a lot of white-collar workers who save one or two months’ wages in order to purchase a shoulder bag” according to a store manager.

According to a survey of luxury consumers in Tianjin commissioned by the local government at the end of 2010, in general, the luxury consumers can be classified into 6 groups: the second generation rich, representing 6%; white collar workers in state-owned and foreign companies, representing 51%; rich wives and girl friends, 15%; private business owners, 24%; the new rich and only 3% for sectors like the government. The majority of these people are inclined to buy luxury goods outside Tianjin (Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong and overseas).

The main reasons for this are:

  • The choices of luxury brands for consumers are very limited in Tianjin, especially the fashion brands, given many of the luxury brands favored by local consumers have not entered Tianjin yet. “I like Chanel and Miu Miu, which both can’t be found in Tianjin so that I have to buy outside the city”, a female consumer is quoted as saying.
  • Many of the luxury consumers complain about the update cycle of new luxury products in Tianjin. “It always has taken a long time to get the products that I have found in magazines, most of time they can’t be found in Tianjin”, said by another female consumer.
  • Other reasons for poor sales include the shopping environment and service attitude and the price difference of luxury goods between Tianjin and Hong Kong or other countries.

The gifts market

Currently, many of the luxury goods sold in the city are purchased for gift giving reasons. Gift consumption contributed 30% to 40% to the total luxury market in Tianjin. During the important holiday periods such as spring festival and Christmas, this ratio will increase to 40% to 50%. However, with the better taste and greater experience of both the consumers and gift receivers, the requirement on luxury brand diversity increases. “You can’t give one person the same brands all the time. I prefer to buy different brands as gifts each time,” one male consumer who bought luxury consumers as gifts was quoted as saying. For this reason, new entrant luxury brands are likely to be favored by the local consumers as gifts.

Editors view

According to the local media, the luxury market in Tianjin was slow in 2012, even though the overall sales increased, the growth rate declined. The data from luxury malls in Tianjin also indicates that reduction. “Sales growth last year was more than 40%, while so far this year it is less than 10%, but there is still in an upward trend,” according to one high-end department store manager. Rough statistics of several high-end department stores in Tianjin indicate that luxury brand sales growth was about 10%, compared to 40% to 60% in 2011.

“The performance of luxury brands sales in 2012 in Tianjin can only be described as stable,” according to one interviewee, “take watches for example, the number of customers who came into the store and selected the most expensive watch as they did last year was very rare this year. Consumers are now more professional and experienced, knowing the product range, and whether is it a classic collection and so on”. The same approach applies in the fashion sector, the choice of luxury goods for consumers have been specific to one piece of a single brand, rather than just purely owning a big name handbag for example. This is the result of a more mature attitude and rational consumption.


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