Galeries Lafayette Coming to Beijing

The legendary Paris department store, already a favorite of Chinese tourists, will be arriving in Beijing by 2014. They are teaming up with HK retailer I.T. It seems they’ve been thinking about this since 2007. I wonder if the major American department stores like Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus, Bergdorf Goodman, Barney’s, etc. would do well here. Currently, the only department stores of their type are the Swank and Lane Crawford, both from Hong Kong.

Most of them should be planning their market entry since this is the moment to be chasing the RMB of the bling Beijingers described here. After going on in the typical fashion about how rich people are and how many things they have to buy, the author concludes everything is available now in Beijing, which is true only relative to the desert of a decade ago. Tastes are diversifying and – hopefully – improving even faster than the economy grows. When one considers London, New York, or Tokyo, Beijing and Shanghai still seem like retail deserts. It is just the chains that are coming, after all. Selection and price will have to improve here if locals are to be convinced to spend here rather than while on trips abroad. It is now the moment for specialty products like those available in Hong Huang’s store, BNC, probably the most worthwhile shopping destination in Beijing.

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