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Fashion & Accessories August 2013

The summer period is traditionally slow for luxury retailers in China, and this year is slower than most according to some of those managing in the sector. Typically during August and September new stores begin to open in preparation for the Golden Week holiday period.

During July and August, this year, we have seen some new stores in new locations open, but fewer than in the previous year, and a number of re-openings. Existing stores have been refurbished to make them more engaging and typically larger than in the past, so that a wider product range can be included. Every brand is stretching beyond its traditional specialism to try and appeal to and capture a wider audience.

Many brands in the sector are working hard to engage better with consumers and expand the existing client base. Other than the store environment and product range, we have brands organising and sponsoring photography and art exhibitions, these include Chanel and BottegaVeneta, who openly say that ‘we hope this art space will help us to attract different groups of people’.

Targeting specific groups of consumers is one recent theme, and we have seen LV open its first women only store in the Shin Kong Place mall in Beijing, their newly reopened store in Hangzhou Tower has increased from one to three floors and includes a women’s boutique and one floor dedicated to after sales service. BV on the other hand has stretched its offer in a newly opened store in Shanghai and a reopened shop in Shenzhen to include male and female products, including leather bags, clothing, travel products, jewellery, shoes, leather goods, eyewear, perfumes and home lifestyle products, the latter offering a unique way for consumers to buy into the brand.

Fendi opened its first ever male only boutique in L’Avenue shopping centre in Shanghai, in addition to a new store in the ZhongDa International department store in Xian, an increasingly popular city for new stores. Coach, Roger Vivier and Versace also have a new in the city. The Mixc in Shenzhen, also saw the reopening of the stores belonging to BV and Gucci after their refurbishment. The Gucci presence is a flagship store covering three floors, and is the first stop for its Icons of Heritage touring exhibition.
The Shanghai iapm mall became home to new stores for Alexander McQueen, Givenchy, Alfred Dunhill and Jimmy Choo, although it will be a little while longer before it is fully occupied. Another mall in the city, the K11 became the location of the first ever Dolce&Gabbana flagship store in China, and its largest globally. Burberry to opened in the mall at the same time.

Coach has continued its expansion into lower tier cities by opening stores in WangFuJing Shopping Centre in Taiyuan city, ShanXi province in August. It also introduced its new watch collection in XiDan Joy City in Beijing and ZhenHua Department store in Yantai, Shandong in the same month. In July Emporio Armani opened its first watch concession in Shanghai’s K11 mall.

The theme of extending the brand or offering specifically tailored products to appeal to more selective customers, can also be seen in the men’s bag category, where Tod’s announced a bespoke offering, that was due to be available in limited numbers from three stores in Beijing and Shanghai. Having spoken with the stores ourselves, we were told that the offer was not yet available and the staff had no further details of what exactly would be provided.

Last but not least

There is undoubtedly a perception that if you are a big and well established brand in China such as LV, mall operators will bend over backwards to accommodate you and give you the best possible position. Perhaps now in a more competitive environment, this is not the case, no matter how big you are! When it opened, LV were offered the choice of space and other incentives to become the anchor tenant of the Shin Kong Place mall in Beijing, which at the time was new and not in a popular shopping district. They turned this offer down.

Over the last few years, this mall has become one of the most successful in Beijing and when LV wanted to move in, they were not greeted as warmly as before. The space they really wanted was given to another retailer, and the brand has been forced to open its first female boutique in a position unlike any other it has. This store is its first that does not face onto the street! What comes around, goes around.


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