Jing Daily’s Top Posts For The Week
Last week, Jing Daily sat down with Dr. Handel Jones, founder of the market and strategy consulting and analysis company International Business Strategies (Los Gatos, CA), to discuss his newest book “ChinAmerica: Why the Future of America is China” and the issues that are emerging for American and Chinese businesses as the two countries become further intertwined economically.
In part one of our two-part interview, we discuss the business side of the increasing economic interdependence of China and the United States, looking at the gradual shift of Chinese companies moving further up the value chain and the opportunities presented by the growing Chinese middle class for American exporters.
These are interesting times for anyone keeping an eye on (or collecting) Chateau Lafite, the wine of choice for China’s burgeoning wine collectors. This weekend, Sotheby’s held its eighth wine auction series of the year in Hong Kong, again achieving 100% sell-through rates, but the figure that really stands out is the HK$1.8 million (US$230,000) spent for each of three bottles of rare 1869 vintage Chateau Lafite, sold to an Asian telephone bidder. These bottles not only blew their pre-sale estimates of HK$40,000-60,000 out of the water, they also set a new world record for the most expensive individual bottles of wine ever sold at auction. The previous record-holder, also by Chateau Lafite, was a 1787 vintage engraved with the initials of President Thomas Jefferson, bought at auction by the publisher Malcolm Forbes for £105,000 pounds ($168,000) at Christie’s in London in 1985.
All told, Sotheby’s pulled in HK$65.5 million (US$8.5 million) at this weekend’s sell-out wine auction, well over the sale’s high estimate of HK$19.5 million.
Announced earlier this year, the new St. Regis Lhasa, which has the distinction of being Tibet’s first luxury hotel, has opened its doors. Though the project has garnered some controversy, St. Regis will be the first of several international luxury hotel chains to set up shop in Lhasa in an attempt to tap the growing number of Chinese tourists pouring into the region from the country’s wealthier east coast. Earlier this year, a ground-breaking ceremony was held on the site of the InterContinental Lhasa (set to open in 2012), Shangri-La also plans to open its own high-end hotels in the Tibetan capital by 2012. Additionally, a handful of boutique hotels are also in the works in Lhasa and surrounding areas.
According to Xinhua, at the opening of the 32,000 square meter St. Regis Lhasa, representatives of owner Starwood Hotels & Resorts and Tibet tourism officials lauded the new resort’s small carbon footprint and green construction.
As luxury brands further extend their reach into the mainland China market, Jing Daily turns its attention to the exclusive malls and shopping centers that are home to many of the top lux labels. Here is the Jing list of Must-Know Luxury Shopping Centers—hotspots for brands with an established presence in China as well as those choosing to expand into China for the first time.
Oriental Plaza, located on Wangfujing Street, houses apartments, offices, and a hotel as well as the luxury shopping mall. At 120,000 square meters, the Oriental Plaza is one of Asia’s largest shopping centers, with retail shops ranging from top luxury brands to more local and casual labels. At the top end: Trussardi, Moschino, Hugo Boss, Burberry, and watchmaker Piaget, among others.
French Luxury Shoemaker, Christian Louboutin, is planning a Beijing store to open in July and a second Shanghai store to open by the end of 2011. Famous for his red-soled women’s footwear, Louboutin hopes to operate as many as five stores in China within the next three years, targeting China as well as Brazil. “There’s some danger for this brand, since it’s not very well known in China,” James Roy, a Shanghai-based senior analyst for China Market Research Group said to Bloomberg. “There is still room, especially on the super high end, but Shanghai and Beijing might not be the best choices” because wealthy consumers in those cities shop abroad during their travels, while noting that wealthy consumers in second-tier cities are not necessarily traveling as much yet.
Christian Louboutin may also tailor its designs sold in the Asian stores to the market, saying “Asians don’t like very high heels with pointy shoes,” typically preferring rounded toes. “Fabric is more popular in France, where women have linen shoes, but not in China,” Roy said. “In China, when the shoe is made expensive, they expect much more leather.”