The Swank Has 4 Hong Kong Boutiques & 1 In Beijing
Multi-brand retailer The Swank, which currently operates four boutiques in its native Hong Kong and one in Beijing, is set for a a mainland China expansion that should see its locations double within the next five years. One of Hong Kong’s top luxury retailers, along with JOYCE and I.T. — both of which see the Chinese Mainland as key markets — The Swank announced this week that its expansion effort will center on second- and third-tier cities, starting with Xi’an and Hangzhou this year. As general manager Tony Lam said, “In the next five years, we will open at least five stores in the mainland.”
According to Lam, The Swank considers the time right for an inland China expansion as sales at the company’s Beijing location have risen 25 percent annually since its debut in 2009, adding, “We expect the same growth for the future mainland stores.” Established in 1955 and fully owned by the ENM Group, The Swank runs nine single-brand boutiques for the likes of Brioni, Just Cavalli and Sonia Rykiel along with its multi-brand locations.
With China projected to become the world’s largest luxury consumer market by 2015, and high-end consumption expected to reach 570 billion yuan (US$90 billion) within the next four years, Hong Kong specialty retailers have moved quickly to set up shop in key cities like Beijing and Shanghai. Along with I.T and JOYCE, the Hong Kong luxury retail powerhouse Lane Crawford — which, like The Swank, now operates four Hong Kong locations and one in Beijing — is also planning to continue expanding in the Mainland to tap increasing spending inland. According to China Daily, Lane Crawford execs recently said that sales at the company’s Beijing store were “better than expected,” and that they’re planning “several” new stores in mainland China.
The growth of Hong Kong’s leading multi-brand luxury retailers in China isn’t surprising. With decades of experience, and close relationships with some of the world’s top prestige brands, Lane Crawford, JOYCE, I.T and The Swank have a head start over their comparatively new competitors from Beijing and Shanghai. Though small, niche multi-brand retailers like Triple-Major in Beijing and Dong Liang (Jing Daily Q&A) in Beijing and Shanghai are gaining attention by stocking avant-garde designs from China and elsewhere, the Chinese Mainland is still lagging in terms of world-class prestige retail spots. (As opposed to luxury mono-brand flagships and boutiques.) As Torsten Stocker of the Monitor Group told Jing Daily last year,
There are still only about 200 department stores that are suitable for prestige brands (and I am talking prestige cosmetics and apparel here, not luxury) [in China], and the country lacks the ‘mid-sized multi-brand (apparel) retailers’ that we have in the US and most of Europe but also in Japan (think Beams with its multitude of formats or United Arrows) that play a critical role in shaping new views and introducing new brands etc.