Inside Tom Ford's Guangzhou store.

Tom Ford isn’t one to let a pandemic stop a store opening.

The largest Tom Ford Beauty freestanding store in the world opened in August in Guangzhou, China. The four-story space — complete with a 40-foot high screen at the entrance — features makeup, skin care and fragrance, as well as accessories like handbags and sunglasses. It is the brand’s sixth freestanding store in China, where there are 25 brick-and-mortar doors overall and penetration into 600 cities via Tmall; Guillaume Jesel, global brand president of the Estée Lauder-licensed brand, said it is likely to become the number-one freestanding store worldwide.

“We know the Chinese consumer has a high interest in luxury, though that has evolved from badging to quality and craftsmanship,” Jesel said. “With that evolution, it is important for us to showcase these aspects of the brand in physical retail to complement the online experience.”

China has been a fast-growing market for Tom Ford Beauty. Sales have doubled year-on-year since it launched four years ago, and it is now the brand’s number-one affiliate market. On Tmall, Tom Ford ranks number seven in makeup, driven by a strong lip and eye business, and number three in fragrance.

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Jesel said fragrance, in particular, though, has been strong this year, with sales increasing five-fold overall, to reach 30 percent of the brand’s business. In the new store, the category accounts for 50 percent of the turnover, driven by the successful launch of Rose Prick, plus digital tools like an interactive scent table and visual sampling video narrated by Ford. While the Chinese are drawn to the luxury aspect of the category, COVID-19 has also had a halo effect. “We can see how Chinese consumers are finding the element of “feel good” in fragrance as they live through pandemic,” Jesel said.

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