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HONG KONG — Harvey Nichols opened its $19 million Asia flagship Tuesday in this city, where sales at department stores are growing thanks in part to the burgeoning number of tourists from Mainland China.
This story first appeared in the October 19, 2011 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Harvey Nichols’ new 83,000-square-foot flagship, designed by London interior designer Four IV, is located in the high-end shopping mall Pacific Place in the Admiralty area. It is taking over the space previously occupied by another department store, Seibu, which is also part of the Dickson Concepts universe.
The luxury multibrand retailer opened its first store in Hong Kong in 2005 at The Landmark shopping center in Central, the business district, and plans to retain that store as a smaller branch.
The new Harvey Nichols flagship will offer what it calls “the six pillars”: women’s wear, men’s wear, children’s clothing, accessories, beauty and cosmetics and watches and jewelry. It will “become a showcase of Harvey Nichols for the Southeast Asian and China markets,” according to the 2011 annual report of Hong Kong-based Dickson Concepts, which acquired Harvey Nichols group in 1991.
Harvey Nichols Ltd. chief operating officer Audrey Sun said the city needed a store with a mix of product offerings because of the busy pace of life here. “People want to get things done fast,” she said.
She said Harvey Nichols chose to locate its Asia flagship here because Hong Kong “has always been one of the leading cities within the Asia Pacific for luxury and fashion.”
Luxury retail, she said, took hold here much earlier than elsewhere in Asia. “Hong Kong already has an established audience that makes luxury and luxury products and luxury fashion a high priority in everyday life.”
The value of sales at department stores rose 21 percent to 25 billion Hong Kong dollars, or $3 billion, in the first eight months of this year, compared with the same period last year, according to provisional figures from the government’s census and statistics department. That reflected a wider trend in overall retail sales, which increased by 26 percent in value over the same period thanks to robust consumption demand and tourist spending.
In August, more than four million tourists arrived, breaking the monthly record, according to the Hong Kong Tourism Board. Mainland Chinese visitors made up two-thirds of the 27 million arrivals in the first eight months of this year.
Hong Kong is home to several department store chains. The Japanese-style Sogo targets mid- to high-spending customers and has one branch each in the high-traffic, popular shopping districts of Causeway Bay and Tsim Sha Tsui. Yata, a Japanese lifestyle department store, has three locations, all away from the central business district.
Tourists, particularly those from Mainland China, are a key sales driver for the market.
“You continue to see a good growth of Mainland tourist numbers and that tends to help department stores,” said Mohan Singh, head of Asian consumer equity research in Hong Kong at broker-dealer MF Global. He said Sogo had the highest profile among the department stores in the city.