Macao Special Administration Region of the People's Republic of China isn't the most enticing name for a retail and gaming mecca.
More and more retailers, however, are being lured to the tiny peninsula off the southeast coast of China. The appeal is in the sales potential of hundreds of millions of Chinese, forbidden from gambling on the mainland, who are within a relatively short plane flight of the former Portuguese colony. They are arriving in hordes and, more important, they are spending, even though most are still more interested in good bets than in luxury goods.
Real estate developers and investors have been quick to label Macao the Las Vegas of Asia, but so far, at least, Atlantic City may be a more appropriate comparison, retail brokers said.
Upscale retailers hope that once increasing numbers of middle-class Chinese become accustomed to and more familiar with buying luxury brands — aided by a 30 percent sales tax break, courtesy of Macao's "special administration" status — a presence on Macao will translate into a wider audience of shoppers on the mainland.
DFS Group, a subsidiary of LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, is constructing an 86,000-square-foot galleria of its luxury brands such as Hermès, Dior and Prada in the Four Seasons casino hotel. David Yurman and Dolce & Gabbana have plans to open in Macao in the next few years. Bulgari and Louis Vuitton are among the luxury brands that already have stores in casino hotels.
"Macao is a huge opportunity for retail right now," said Robert Futterman, chief executive officer of Robert K. Futterman & Associates, which markets retail space in Las Vegas casinos. "Retail and casinos go hand in hand, whether it's in Vegas or in Asia."
Casinos and hotels valued at about $12 billion are being built in Macao, according to the International Council of Shopping Centers. As an indication of the speed of the development, last spring Wynn Resorts announced plans for a $345 million expansion of the Wynn Macao, even before construction of the original resort was completed. The newest Wynn resort, which opened Sept. 8, covers 11 acres and has 600 hotel rooms, 100,000 square feet of casino space, seven restaurants and 28,000 square feet of retail space.The expansion will add two more restaurants and 85,000 square feet more casino space, and is expected to begin in the first half of next year. The Venetian Macao, when completed five years from now, is projected to have as much as 3 million square feet of retail adjoining the Four Seasons.
Macao's casinos, of course, aren't luxury's only gateway into the vast Asian market, just the trendiest. Hong Kong and Singapore have long been home to wealthy Asian shoppers and business travelers from the West. Singapore, where the resort and casino scene is slightly less developed than in Macao, is growing to meet increasing demand.
"Every day is like the day before Christmas in Singapore," said Jeffrey Roseman, executive vice president of Newmark Knight Frank Retail, a New York retail brokerage.
The Singapore government in May selected Las Vegas Sands Corp. to build and operate a $3 billion resort and casino on the Marina Bay Waterfront. The Marina Bay Sands is targeted for an opening in 2009. The company won a competition for the site with Harrah's Entertainment's Caesars Singapore, which included a retail component from Taubman Asia.
Taubman still has plans for New Songdo City, in South Korea, where it can potentially build 10 million square feet of retail. New Songdo City, under construction now and marketed as yet another gateway city by its developer, Gale International, is following in Singapore's footsteps with an all-English vernacular and Western-style mixed use of residences, shopping and entertainment.
@tradesy is turning the concept of a showroom upside down with its new space in Santa Monica. Here, the company plans to hold events, art exhibits and a showcase rare fashion pieces like this Louis Vuitton boxing set. Get all the details on Tradesy’s first showroom on WWD.com. #wwdnews
Spotted last night at the @erdem x @hm launch event: Kate Bosworth, Rashida Jones, Kirsten Dunst and Selma Blair. The party, which took place in LA, also marked the opening of their pop-up shop. “I was interested in creating a collection that wasn’t in any way disposable. It was about pieces you’d create and keep forever, things that have a permanence to it,” designer Erdem Moralioglu said. #wwdeye (📷: Katie Jones)
Renee Zellweger in yellow in 2001 and again in 2017. Chosen as one of the 12 @pantone Leading Spring Colors (and dubbed “Meadowlark”), it only makes sense that the bright hue stands the test of time and is making a resurgence this season, seen already on stars like @blakelively and @gigihadid. (📷: Donato Sardello & @rexfeatures) #wwdfashion #tbt
Dior’s 70th anniversary celebration continues with a new exhibition at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. “Christian Dior,” which is scheduled to run through March 18, takes a look at the founders tenure from 1947 to 1057 and feature 40 designs. Pictured here is an evening gown from the Ailée, fall 1948-49 haute couture collection. #wwdfashion (📷: Brian Boyle)
As one of the most recognizable models in the world, Christy Turlington Burns has an insider’s view of the fashion industry and the allegations of sexual harassment swirling around it. “I can say that harassment and mistreatment have always been widely known and tolerated in the industry. The industry is surrounded by predators who thrive on the constant rejection and loneliness so many of us have experiences at some point in our careers,” Turlington told WWD, along with her suggestions for how the modeling world should protect younger women and men. Read more on WWD.com. Link in bio. (📷: Tony Palmieri) #wwdnews
@asics America has tapped a new brand ambassador: famed DJ/record producer @steveaoki. This initiative is intended to set the tone for the new brand identity and philosophy and will include partnerships with influencers and in-store and off-line activations that will continue into next year. This is Asics’ most significant marketing effort in two decades, and is expected to attract younger consumers to the brand. #wwdfashion
24-year-old Jean Prounis is redefining the rules of jewelry. Formerly a studio assistant to Jemima Kirke and a design apprentice at Ghuran, she focuses on handcrafted subtleties and ancient goldsmithing techniques. “There was a really sterile feel in the environment and I wanted to have jewelry with character that shapes how you wear it everyday,” Prounis said. Each piece is hand made in New York, either by Prounis or three other jewelers in the district. #wwdfashion
“These collections continue to build on that vision, empowering differently abled adults to express themselves through fashion,” said @tommyhilfiger of his line of adaptive apparel, which launches today. The line consists of 37 men’s and 34 women’s styles based upon the pieces from the spring Tommy Hilfiger sportswear collection. #wwdnews