By  on February 1, 2008

HONG KONG — Hong Kong's busy airport has become home to the first freestanding Giorgio Armani travel-retail beauty boutique.

The 333-square-foot store, called Giorgio Armani, was opened on Jan. 17 in Hong Kong International Airport's Terminal One with the help of the L'Oréal-licensed brand's travel-retail distributor Scental and airport operator Nuance-Watson.

The boutique sells 180 makeup and seven skin care references, plus Armani fragrances, according to Remi Chadapaux, general manager, L'Oréal luxury products division for Asia-Pacific.

It is estimated the Armani beauty location will generate retail sales of up to 33,000 Hong Kong dollars, or $4,230 at current exchange, per day, according to industry sources.

Hong Kong International Airport was chosen as the inaugural beauty travel-retail boutique for Giorgio Armani because of the brand's established presence in the city, explained Chadapaux. There are four existing Giorgio Armani beauty outlets in Hong Kong, three freestanding boutiques and one counter in the Seibu department store.

"It is also present in Taiwan, and there will be some projects in Mainland China in the future,'' he said.

Hong Kong has become a pivotal destination for luxury brands looking to capture a share of booming demand for high-end products among Mainland Chinese, who must pay steeper prices at home for the highly taxed goods.

Hong Kong was host to 13.4 million visitors from Mainland China in 2006, an increase of 8.4 percent over the previous year, according to the Hong Kong Tourism Commission. From 2003 onward, Mainland tourism numbers have soared in Hong Kong as the Chinese government relaxed restrictions on outbound travel to the city. Chinese tourists account for about 50 percent of all visitors there.

Hong Kong International Airport was also chosen for its rising footfall. HKIA's passenger volume rose 7.5 percent to 47.4 million in the 12 months to November 2007, versus the same prior-year period, according to HKIA.

In its first few days of operation, people buying at the Giorgio Armani beauty boutique were roughly 50 percent Mainland Chinese; between 20 and 30 percent airport and aircrew staff, and a further 20 to 30 percent from the rest of the world, said Chadapaux.Giorgio Armani's first beauty store in Taiwan made its debut four months ago. As for further travel-retail boutiques, Chadapaux said moves are under way to find suitable locations.

"We are looking at different opportunities," he confirmed, without revealing particulars.

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