Shopping centers are opening one after another in Chengdu, and Hong Kong-based luxury department store Lane Crawford hopped on the bandwagon this weekend. While foreign department stores such as the French Galeries Lafayette and Italian 10 Corso Como have focused on the established markets of “Tier 1” cities like Beijing and Shanghai, Lane Crawford believes that “Tier 2” cities like Chengdu and Tianjin are the next big thing.
Located in the new Chengdu International Finance Square, Lane Crawford’s new store soft launched on March 15, and will celebrate its grand opening in April. With over 300 international and local brands, this will be Lane Crawford’s third expansion in mainland China.
“We’ve seen first-hand the appetite for designer fashion and lifestyle through the increasing numbers of Chengdu residents coming to Lane Crawford in Hong Kong and our online store—not simply to buy but also to learn and experience the world of style,” said Lane Crawford president Andrew Keith.
The featured brands range from international designers including Alexander McQueen and Givenchy, to newcomers Alexander Wang and Sacai. With niche Chinese designers are on the rise, the store also features Chinese designers Chictopia by Christine Lau, Helen Lee, and Ms Min by Min Liu for consumers looking away from big brands to express their individuality.
“Tier 2” cities have seen tremendous development happening in the past few years. According to real estate company CBRE, luxury brands have been hard-hit recently. Many have been turning away from the lukewarm, mature markets of Tier 1 cities and focusing on opening flagship stores in gateway cities instead—especially in the third quarter of 2013. Louis Vuitton’s flagship store in Chengdu, which opened in 2006, ranks among the luxury brand’s top three performing stores in China, according to real estate agency Savills.
Among “Tier 2” cities, Chengdu’s growth is exceptionally exuberant, and boasts what is claimed to be the “world’s largest building,” the New Century Global Center, a behemoth big enough to house 20 Sydney Opera Houses. Chengdu has also made massive infrastructure investments in its railway and airports, and it is not hard to see why retailers have been rushing to set up shop there. The city has seen 31 retail projects under construction as of December 31, 2013, according to CBRE.
Furthermore, consultant company Maxxelli Consulting believes that Chengdu’s growing population of young, affluent entrepreneurs, coupled with the region’s more “laid-back” atmosphere, will provide a different retail experience from that of hectic Beijing and Shanghai. However, Maxxelli observes that “(what) Chengdu lacks is the variety of fast fashion retailers specifically targeting the younger generation,“ and more brands will certainly come in to fulfill that need.
Lane Crawford’s move into Chengdu will likely attract traffic as consumers in that region look for more retail options. If both the interest of multi-brand retailers like Lane Crawford and the success of mega-brands like Louis Vuitton are anything to go by, Chengdu can soon move from China’s fashion frontier to become a major shopping center.