China

Ledbury Research is releasing its latest Luxury Market Insights report, which includes a CEO Outlook study tomorrow, and guess what? Those chief execs aren’t totally convinced the Chinese consumer demand for luxury, which has been slowing, will zoom back, despite what they often say.

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The rest of the luxury world may be quailing in the face of an Asian slowdown; Cassandras may crying doom! as the new Chinese political regime cracks down on bribery and obvious bling; Europe may be seeing flat or no growth, but you’d never know it to look at the Prada Group’s results. Today the Italian luxury Group, which includes Prada, Miu Miu, Car Shoe and Church’s, and is listed on the Hong Kong stock exchange, reported consolidated net revenues of Euro 3,297 million, a 29% increase (+23% at constant exchange rates) over 2011, making its earnings per share — up 41% in 2012 (from Euro 0.17 in 2011, to Euro 0.24) – the highest in luxury according to a recent report from HSBC.

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Yesterday Farfetch.com, the ecommerce site that acts like a portal between global consumers and global independent boutiques, both editing their offerings and connecting either side, announced $20m in new funding, largely from Condé Nast International. A few days before, Luxup, a UK-based ecommerce travel site that aimed to create a “club” of tourists eager for insider shopping experiences, ceased trading. When such things happen in parallel, it’s tempting to try to find lots of lessons in the news.

What are they? Read more

Much has been made in the US of Heart magazine’s new “ShopBazaar,” a web site linked to their high-fashion flagship title that allows you to effectively shop most of the pages of the book on-line. While such editorial-commercial links are not exactly new, however, what I hadn’t realised, because they’ve been keeping rather mum about it, is that is only ONE of Hearst’s “experiments” in the space – or so explained Duncan Edwards, President of Hearst International, when we were talking earlier this week. The company had a few different such “trials” going on around the world. Trials? Read more

Hong Kong’s sizeable British expat community is getting excited about next year’s opening of Topshop in the city’s central business district.

But they are not the only reason why Sir Philip Green has decided to open the British brand’s first permanent outlet in greater China.

The city is a favourite holiday destination for mainland China’s growing middle class, who flock to the tax-free special administrative region to shop, and also an international financial centre passed through by many visitors already familiar with the brand. Locals also have among the highest spending power in the region.

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PPR’s announcement last night that they had bought a majority stake in baby Chinese jewellery brand Qeelin – it was launched in 2004 by Dennis Chan and Guillaume Brochard– marks the third move on the part of French group with an Asian dimension. You know what that means: I smell a trend. Read more

Two interesting announcements this morning, both of which are worth examining: First Labelux announces instead of embracing (and chasing) hard luxury, it is exiting the segment to focus entirely on leathergoods; then Mulberry rejects the outlet model to take its bags and other products further up-market. The moves are complementary, in the context of general industry strategy. They both indicate that in the highly competitive world of leathergoods, current theory says it’s the most special, elaborate, highly worked pieces that sell.
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The news that LA-based private equity firm Leonard Green & Partners may take a 25% stake in Topshop and Topman has the high street all aflutter, largely because of the billion plus valuations it puts on the brands. However, it makes sense for a lot of reasons, and provides some fun fodder for sepculation. Let’s plunge in! Read more

For absolutely riveting reading, let me recommend the first ever World Handbag Report. It’s a collation of 120 million internet searches in 10 markets via four search engines (Google, Bing, Bai du, etc) by the Digital Luxury Group, and is it full of surprising facts – most notably, how incredibly imbalanced the handbag market is. The brands with big market share of search have BIG market share. The rest, well…have piddly squat. Read more

Check out the picture below of the incoming members of the Politburo Standing Committee. Those ties! Those suits! That hair parting. If, as my colleagues point out today, the reduction in membership of China’s ruling committee from nine to seven is “an effort to make collective decision-making less contentious and more efficient,” this gives new meaning to the idea of sartorial unity. Read more