Diamond Rush: Harry Winston Eyes China Expansion

Harry Winston Establishing Chinese Subsidiary, Launching New Boutiques In 2011

Harry Winston currently operates two salons in China (Image: PR)

Harry Winston currently operates two salons in China (Image: PR)

Having overtaken Japan to become the world’s second-largest diamond market in 2010, and surpassed the U.S. as the biggest Belgian diamond export market, China has established itself as a critical market for major jewelry chains from around the world. Chinese consumers purchased US$1.5 billion worth of diamonds in 2009, a 17 percent rise over the previous year, and growing demand in 2010 enticed companies like Tiffany & Co. and Van Cleef & Arpels to unveil massive expansion strategies, particularly in inland areas. Looking to add to its China footprint, this year Canada’s Harry Winston Diamond Corporation is set to follow its American and European counterparts and undertake a new growth strategy, establishing a Chinese subsidiary and opening several new boutiques throughout the country.

According to Jewellery News Asia, greater demand for rough diamonds and diamond jewelry throughout mainland China saw Harry Winston’s Q3 sales jump 88 percent over the same period in 2009, to $13.7 million over the previous $4.9 million. As Harry Winston CEO Robert Gannicott recently told reporters, Chinese demand has been instrumental in the company’s improving outlook over the past two years, with Chinese consumers being the “engine of this recovery.”

Harry Winston currently operates two salons in China, a full location in Beijing and a watch boutique in Shanghai. However, given the company sells around 25% of its diamonds to Tiffany & Co., increasing consumer demand (and Tiffany’s popularity in China) has been a benefit all around.