Louis Vuitton’s Inland (China) Empire Set To Grow Even Larger

French Luxury Giant Recently Inaugurated First Mainland China “Maison” In Shanghai

Workers put the finishing touches on Hefei's Louis Vuitton store

Fresh off the opening of its first mainland China “Maison” at Shanghai’s Plaza 66 — its fourth location in the city and 39th nationwide — Louis Vuitton is set to open its first Anhui province location store at Intime Center in capital city Hefei. Little known outside of China, and certainly not widely known within China as a very luxurious city, over the last several years brands like Gucci, Burberry and Bally have transitioned from small sales counters at malls like Wanqian (万千百货), Shangzhidu (商之都) and Drum Tower Business Plaza (鼓楼商厦) to full-fledged locations at Intime, making it the city’s premier high-end mall over the course of one year.

As local news site Winshang noted this week of the impending launch of Hefei’s first Louis Vuitton store (translation by Jing Daily team):

As of noon on August 19, workers at the Intime Center on Changjiang Road — the location of Anhui’s first LV store — were still working on the facade. This reporter saw a sign that read, “The Hefei store grand opening will be held on August 24.” A range of accessories and handbags were already laid out in the store, although it remains closed to the public and managers refused reporter requests to take a look at the locatin’s interior.

Industry insiders have indicated that top-tier luxury brands are starting to enter the Hefei market as the average age of the city’s luxury consumers becomes younger. “90 percent of [luxury brands’] VIP shoppers are under the age of 35, which we were surprised to find out,” one industry analyst told this reporter. Hefei University professor Zhang Xin added that with the continued economic development of Hefei city, the Hefei luxury market will also see a vast improvement.

Guangxi capital Nanning's first Louis Vuitton store, at Dream Island shopping mall

According to the 2011 Hurun Wealth Report, Anhui province is home to around 8,500 multi-millionaires, a rise of 1,400 over 2010. As newly minted millionaires continue to spring up in this eastern Chinese province, it’s not surprising to see more luxury retailers dip their toes into the market. Still, brands have been rightfully cautious about entering the Anhui market in general and Hefei more specifically, as it’s something of a blank slate. As one unnamed manager from Hefei’s Golden Eagle International Shopping Center told Anhui News last summer, though some high-end labels may have the “intention” to launch in Hefei, most are instead doing long-term market research and keeping a close eye on their competitors’ ROI before making the call to jump in.

Still, a basic level of knowledge about the China luxury market indicates that where Louis Vuitton goes, many other brands are soon to follow — a fact that’s particularly true in “blank slate” second- and third-tier cities. (Where the vast majority of China’s LV stores are now located.)

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