Between September and October, Wuhan hit a new retail high when a host of top luxury houses unveiled their new storefronts at Heartland 66, a high-end luxury shopping destination in Wuhan, developed by Hang Lung Properties.
As top-tier cities and regions in China mature and become oversaturated, luxury brands must look to up-and-coming areas like Central China, a loosely defined geographical zone that consists of many cultures and includes the provinces Henan, Hubei, Hunan, and Jiangxi.
As a leading Hong Kong company with an extensive real estate portfolio in the city, Hang Lung Properties has developed, purchased, and managed world-class commercial complexes in key Mainland cities since the 1990s, with Shanghai 66 Plaza becoming one of China’s top countrywide shopping experience.
The local luxury market in China saw an exponential leap in 2020 due to a reduction of international travel from the COVID-19 pandemic. The repatriation of luxury spending has “put the country on track to claiming the biggest share of the market by 2025,” according to a report called China’s Unstoppable 2020 Luxury Market, released by Bain in collaboration with Tmall. The report also points out that luxury brands will continue to see positive domestic growth in 2021 by roughly 30 percent, confirmed by their recent third-quarter results.
This upward path was exemplified by a strong rebound in Wuhan, the capital of Hubei Province, during China’s National Day Holiday (also known as Golden Week). As reported by state media, the city welcomed more travelers (21.2 million) than any other in the country, beating out many Tier-1 locations like Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou.
Wuhan has been dedicated to elevating its status among “new Tier-1 cities,” a trend first noticed by the Chinese business publication CBN Weekly. This metropolis has ranked highly on the news platform’s list of new Tier-1 cities since 2013, but in 2021, it leaped to a spot just behind Chengdu, Hangzhou, Chongqing, and Xi’an. Meanwhile, according to the 2021 edition of the Global Innovation Index, Wuhan ranked 25th out of the 100 top clusters worldwide as an innovation center and was sixth among Chinese cities.
As home to thousands of years of cultural heritage and creativity, Wuhan draws talents and travelers as much as international brands or retailers trying to expand into Central China. But, between September and October, the city hit a new retail high when a host of top luxury houses unveiled their new storefronts at Heartland 66, a high-end luxury shopping destination in Wuhan, developed by Hang Lung Properties.
Here, Jing Daily dives into Central China’s luxury scene to better understand how Hang Lung Properties won this important regional market by connecting with global players and Wuhan’s local shoppers alike.
The ultimate luxury hub with a strong brand portfolio
Launched this past March, Heartland 66 has already achieved landmark status in Wuhan. But now, the mall is poised to reshape the city’s luxury landscape through its strong brand portfolio, which includes newly opened cross-floor boutiques from Louis Vuitton, Dior, and Gucci, and the region’s first stores from Balenciaga, Celine, Loewe, Moynat, and Berluti. Meanwhile, Fendi, Saint Laurent, Burberry, Bottega Veneta, Loro Piana, Moncler, and Rimowa have opened shops on the mall’s first floor.
Along with these A-list fashion houses, more luxury jewelers and watchmakers have become tenants at Heartland 66. Among those names are Pomellato, Moneta, and Hublot, all with their first stores in Central China. Meanwhile, Chaumet, Fred, Vacheron Constantin, and Montblanc made their Wuhan debuts with exclusive mall boutiques. On the second floor, Mulberry and Vilebrequin anointed their first Central China shops. And, Kenzo, Longchamp, and Marc Jacobs also debuted their first stores in the city.
On the B1 floor, white-collar consumers have access to affordable luxury fashion and beauty brands, including ba&sh’s first store in Central China, and stores from SANDRO, MAJE, THEORY, and Dior Beauty.
From high-end to accessible luxury, the mall’s extensive options offer residents and visitors easy access to leading global brands. But what are all these top luxury players betting on with their new offline platforms at Heartland 66?
A regional market that global luxury players cannot ignore
Relationships between geography and economy in China are more complicated than most international groups assume. And as top-tier cities and regions in China mature and become oversaturated, luxury brands must look to up-and-coming areas like Central China, a loosely defined geographical zone that consists of many cultures and includes the provinces Henan, Hubei, Hunan, and Jiangxi.
This area has an incomparable geographic and economic advantage because it connects to all other parts of the Mainland. And with the rapid expansion and development of Central China, residents there now own growing disposable incomes and the financial confidence to spend on luxury goods.
Central China also hosts hundreds of colleges and universities, including top names like Wuhan University and Huazhong University of Science and Technology. The area’s rich educational resources attract Gen-Z students and high-net-world individuals alike. And today, both are primary drivers of luxury consumption in Central China’s commercial and cultural hub. As such, it is not a surprise that this dynamic demographic with strong purchasing power convinced Hang Lung Properties to bet on them.
Heartland 66 is located on Jinghan Avenue — a central part of Wuhan where many other high-end department stores are found. And now, the high-end mall has attracted an elite new group of brands, flagship boutiques, and exclusive stores that lure locals and visitors from the general Hubei Province and Central China. In this way, the mall can expand its influence from a single business district to the entire regional market.
How Hang Lung Properties took the initiative to enter Wuhan
As a leading Hong Kong company with an extensive real estate portfolio in the city, Hang Lung Properties has developed, purchased, and manages world-class commercial complexes in key Mainland cities since the 1990s. So far, the group has landed in nine cities in the Mainland and created ten properties there, with Hangzhou upcoming.
In particular, Shanghai Plaza 66, open for two decades now, maintains a leading retail location among luxury shopping malls in Shanghai and the country. With Heartland 66, Hang Lung continues its high-end positioning by introducing international luxury fashion brands and creating distinguished shopping experiences for the area.
“This project conveys our dedication to injecting vitality into the retail landscape in Wuhan, Hubei, and even Central China,” explained Billy Ip, the General Manager of Heartland 66. “We hope to introduce new shopping experiences, elevate the life quality of residents, and bring in inspirations for their lifestyle.”
Ip’s outlook for Heartland 66 is reflected in the rich scope of Heartland 66’s business operation. In addition to fashion and beauty brands, the mall offers consumers a host of dining options, including lifestyle, children’s & parenting, leisure, and entertainment choices. With an extensive tenant profile and exciting, immersive shopping experiences, Heartland 66 is on track to innovate the city’s retail landscape and continue to prove the stalwart business potential Central China holds.