Chinese Shoppers At Home And Abroad Account For One-Third Of Hermès Sales

Chinese Buyers Accounted For 30 Percent Of Hermès Sales Worldwide Last Year

Chinese shoppers wait outside an Hermes store in Hong Kong (Image: Bon Brand)

Shifting consumer demand in China and the broader effects of slower economic growth in the second half of 2012 may have dented some brands last year, but the Paris-based, family owned luxury house Hermès continued to cash in on wealthy Chinese shoppers now in the grips of “bling fatigue.” Helped by a growing number of Chinese luxury consumers moving towards more classic or understated brands, this week Hermès reported that sales in China rose 30 percent in 2012, indicating that the brand saw a strong close to 2012. Last August, Hermès reported a 25 percent sales increase in the first half of the year.

As Hermès chief exec Patrick Thomas told the Financial Times this week, in the year ahead the company is looking to slow down its rate of new store openings — which is saying a lot, since only two opened in 2012 — instead focusing on renovation and extension of lines, such as homeware. Thomas added that mainland China accounted for 10 percent of Hermès sales in 2012, a figure that doubled when including Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan and jumped to 30 percent when factoring in purchases made overseas by Chinese tourist-shoppers. Thomas attributed his company’s sales success in China last year to “good communications” and a leap in interest from male shoppers.

Said Thomas, in China Hermès splits its product mix equally between men and women, a rarity among luxury brands — most of which disproportionately target women — yet perfectly on-trend given the current state of the Chinese market.

Hermes CEO Patrick Thomas in Beijing last year, at the grand opening of Shang Xia's second boutique

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