Tourists, Acquisitions, and Antiques
Chinese tourists were out in full force this past holiday season, causing quite a stir in the western world. According to Global Blue, a tax-refund and shopping service provider, Mainland tourists’ duty-free spending globally in December not only was estimated at over $170 million, but also accounted for more than 24 percent of the company’s global transactions, making them the largest demographic of tax-free shoppers in the world. Given these numbers, it is little surprise that stores all over the world are targeting Chinese consumers with collections designed specifically for them like dragon inscribed investment-grade gold.
These tailor-made products for Chinese tourists are popping up everywhere, even in the world of luxury tourism. This article in the International Business Times describes a new event designed specifically for wealthy Chinese travelers called Dragon Week. In NYC, Dragon Week is created by Affinity China, which takes tourists everywhere from a cocktail party at Yue-Sai Kan’s townhouse to Bergdorf Goodman for a private fashion show. This year, it even included a private gala held at the Empire State Building with a visit by Mayor Bloomberg.
Moving back to business, Fung Brands is acquiring multiple European companies. The FT reports that Fung, owner of luxury menswear company Trinity Group, is now in talks with French fashion house Sonia Rykiel to buy an 80 percent stake. A growing trend, we’ll continue to see many acquisitions of this type.
Auctioneer Tom Keane talks with MailOnline about a different kind of Western product making its way into Chinese markets: British antiques. Pieces ranging from bookcases to leather armchairs are selling for high dollar (almost ten times more than in Britain) in China today. Keane attributes the growing interest mostly to the uniqueness the pieces hold in Chinese homes.
Hong Huang recently talked to the FT in her home about how, despite her accomplishments, her extremely wealthy friends still look on her with pity. Huang, well-connected politically due to her heritage, jokes about how her friends simply enjoy what she does.
These friends, she says, make up a good portion of customers at her store, which she credits to the fact they’re well traveled and want to support Chinese brands. Although Huang believes Western brands have far from damaged Chinese designers, she predicts the next generation of buyers will move away from gaudy designs to something less Western and more oriental.
But it will all be an eclectic mix, no?