Seventh China Boutique Is Also Largest In Country
Despite a slowdown in high-end watch sales in China this year, Swiss luxury watchmaker Hublot is sticking to its notoriously upbeat business philosophy: Spend more. Make more noise. With factors like increased spending outside of Hong Kong or mainland China, wariness about conspicuous consumption in the weeks and months surrounding Beijing’s imminent leadership transfer, slower economic growth, and less flashy gifting converging in the latter half of 2012, many watchmakers are taking a “wait and see” approach to China in the hopes that demand will bounce back in the first quarter of 2013.
As with every company currently invested in China’s luxury industry, some are more exposed than others to the luxury watch slowdown. For Hublot, which currently exports 40 percent of its products to China, this dip, and tighter spending from Chinese luxury consumers, threatened to dampen CEO Jean-Claude Biver’s hopes of a “hundred years of growth” in “watch-conscious” China this year. However, based on what we’ve heard from the ever animated and enthusiastic Biver so far, he remains optimistic, treating the recent financial slowdown as fuel for his ambition and an incentive to further his company’s reputation in East Asia. Speaking to CNBC this summer, Biver said, “There is only one way to catch up, that is to make more noise than others. To make more noise, you need more investment.”
And invest Hublot has — most recently in a mammoth flagship in Xiamen, its largest in China. The LVMH-owned watchmaker’s seventh store in mainland China and 55th worldwide, the new location opened its doors this past weekend in Xiamen’s leading high-end shopping area, China Town. While not widely known as a luxury battleground on par with second-tier heavyweights like Shenyang (population 8 million) or Chengdu (14 million), Xiamen — with around 3.5 million residents — is a key “blank-slate” market for many upscale brands, particularly those in the LVMH portfolio.
Covering over 200 square meters, the new Xiamen boutique follows the brand’s “Art of Fusion” design concept, outfitted in monochrome black, glass and metal accents behind a facade of black stone. Meeting demand in China for discretion, the location includes several private VIP rooms and low-key lighting throughout. Clearly, Hublot has learned a thing or two since its high-profile entrance into the Mainland market a little over two years ago.
As Loic Biver, Brand Director for Hublot China, said at the opening, “Xiamen plays a very considerable role as the most important luxury market in southeastern China. We are extremely honored to open Hublot’s biggest boutique in China here. Its opening, I believe, will surely provide highend consumers and watch collectors in the whole southeastern area with a place of enjoyment where they can gain a deeper understanding of Hublot and appreciate the artistic treasures of fine watchmaking.”
Running in tandem with the store’s grand opening, Hublot is also busy promoting the “20 Year of Ferrari in China” traveling roadshow and exhibition, which the watchmaker jointly sponsored. This exhibition also coincides with an exhibition in Xiamen of Hublot’s classic watches: the Big Bang collection, Classic Fusion collection, and King Power collection.