Topshop Set To Tackle Mainland—And Beyond

High-Wattage Hong Kong Opening First Step In Celeb-Studded Asia Push

Topshop Hong Kong's shoe salon. (Lisa Ying Dai)

Topshop Hong Kong’s shoe salon. (Lisa Ying Dai)

British fast fashion label Topshop burst onto the scene in Hong Kong earlier this month with a celebrity-filled store opening party, which also saw many retail fashion executives in attendance. While covering the event, Jing Daily caught up with two of them to discuss China marketing and expansion strategies. The first interview, featured below, is with Topshop Managing Director Mary Homer, who flew in from London for the festivities.

According to Homer, the brand has extensive plans for expansion across the mainland and the rest of Asia. Topshop, which is known for major celebrity endorsements from American and British megastars such as Madonna and Kate Moss, used the same marketing strategy in Hong Kong with several high-profile Asian brand ambassadors. Celebrities in attendance included Hong Kong singer G.E.M., Taiwanese actress Gwei Lun Mei, and K-Pop star Kim Hyo Yeon from Girl’s Generation. This diverse set of endorsements makes sense–when asked about the significance of using celebrities from outside Hong Kong and the mainland, Homer noted that Topshop has its eyes on Taiwan and South Korea as well. 

Look below for the full interview, where Homer discusses the rewards and challenges of retail expansion in China, and stay tuned for tomorrow’s discussion with Lane Crawford President Andrew Keith, who was also at the event to promote the department store’s partnership with Topshop in Hong Kong.

What took Topshop so long to open a store in Hong Kong? Why is this the “right time” now?

Topshop has been eager to open a store in the Greater China region for years, but faced challenges in their search for the best location to open their store in Hong Kong, as the prime retail space in Hong Kong is highly demanding and extremely competitive, especially in the past few years after Hong Kong became the shopping haven for mainland shoppers.

Why Hong Kong? Why not Beijing or Shanghai for Topshop’s first store in China? 

The Hong Kong market is similar to Singapore and Japan. We felt very confident that Hong Kong would be the best choice to launch the first Topshop store in the Greater China region. Furthermore, the number of mainland shoppers traveling to Hong Kong to shop has increased dramatically in recent years; therefore, they feel that the Hong Kong store would be a great way to allow mainland consumers to get their first exposure to the Topshop brand.

Topshop Managing Director Mary Homer at the label's Hong Kong store opening. (Lisa Ying Dai)

Topshop Managing Director Mary Homer at the label’s Hong Kong store opening. (Lisa Ying Dai)

Plans to expand into the mainland?

Yes, Topshop has been planning to expand into the mainland. The Topshop team is currently working with real estate agencies in China to find the best retail locations in Beijing and Shanghai. However, this is a time-consuming process so they are not certain when exactly would the first stores in mainland open.

What happened to the pop-up store in Shenzhen that opened in August 2012? How did that work out? 

That still exists. It was originally set to be a pop-up store but due to many reasons, it turned into a small shop. It is still operating in Shenzhen.

Do you think Chinese shoppers are ready for Topshop, considering the fact that many Chinese consumers do not know much about the brand? How is Topshop planning to increase brand awareness in China? 

I believe that Chinese shoppers are becoming more sophisticated and are “hungry” for international brands like Topshop. So yes, Chinese shoppers are definitely ready for Topshop. Topshop is doing lots of social media work to promote its brand in China.

There were three “Asian Ambassadors” at the Topshop Hong Kong opening: Hong Kong singer G.E.M, Taiwanese actress Gwei Lun Mei, and K-Pop star Kim Hyo Yeon from Girl’s Generation. From Topshop’s choices in selecting its Asian Ambassadors, can we assume that Topshop will be opening in Taiwan and Korea soon?

Topshop wants to open stores in Taiwan and Korea. We have plans to expand across Asia.

Any plans to launch Topman in Hong Kong in the near future?

We want to bring Topman to Hong Kong but the retail space available is limited at the moment.

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