Hermès Optimistic About Guangzhou Luxury Market

Gucci Recently Returned To City After Seven-Year Absence

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Lei Rongfa (L), Florian Craen (C) and La Perla manager Liu Jun cut the ribbon at the grand re-opening

This past weekend, Hermès, which currently operates stores in 13 mainland Chinese cities, marked the grand opening of its newly expanded boutique at Guangzhou’s La Perle shopping mall. Located on the mall’s ground floor, the location now boasts 162 square meters of floor space designed by the architectural design firm RDAI and is divided into three sections: jewelry; perfumes and silk; and mens and womenswear. Decorated throughout with accents of cherry wood, and including overstuffed leather couches for weary shoppers, the revamped Hermès La Perle boutique is at once low-key and luxurious.

But is Guangzhou ready for it?

As Jing Daily wrote last month, following the not-so-grand opening of Gucci’s new Guangzhou boutique (which came after a seven-year absence from the city), not everyone is convinced that the top-tier city is a luxury hotspot on par with Shanghai (home of Hermès’ made-in-China sub-brand Shang Xia) or Beijing. Perhaps owing to Guangzhou’s proximity to Hong Kong, where many of China’s luxury-obsessed shoppers flock to do the bulk of their high-end shopping, Guangzhou’s luxury market has lagged behind even Shenzhen’s in terms of development.

The refurbished La Perla boutique. Later this year, Hermes will open its second Guangzhou location at Taikoo Hui

The refurbished La Perla boutique. Later this year, Hermes will open its second Guangzhou location at Taikoo Hui

Still, unlike other brands that see their investment in Guangzhou amount to a few beautiful boutiques that function, essentially, as showrooms, Hermès seems to be bucking the trend. According to NetEase (Chinese), the Hermès La Perla boutique sells more watches, including astronomically priced limited-editions, than any other Hermès store in mainland China. This could be part of the reason that the refurbished La Perla boutique features a plush new watch display area, the centerpiece of which is an Arceau watch worth 1.5 million yuan (US$234,476). The bag-obsessed of Guangzhou aren’t left out, however, as the store also stocks a pink alligator skin Lindy bag worth more than 240,000 yuan (US$37,000).

Speaking about the brand’s prospects in Guangzhou’s at times uneven luxury market, Hermès managing director for North Asia, Florian Craen, said at the grand re-opening, “In the seven years since Hermès entered Guangzhou, we’ve found it an increasingly good fit for us, so we’re much more confident in the Guangzhou market.” Hermès China director Lei Rongfa (雷荣发) shared Craen’s optimism, revealing that Hermès will open its second Guangzhou boutique later this year at the city’s Taikoo Hui luxury mall. Lei added that the new location will be even larger than the expanded La Perla boutique, and will be the the first China boutique stocking the Hermès furniture collection.

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