HONG KONG — For most of the recent past, Hong Kong has been known as a global capital of luxury shopping. But in a sign of the times, this summer Burberry will bid adieu to half of its flagship in Pacific Place mall and a Pure Yoga studio will move in.
This story first appeared in the May 22, 2017 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Although there are welcome indicators that luxury spending is returning to China, and Hong Kong posted its first retail year-over-year sales growth in more than two years, landlords have shifted their focus on getting more ath-leisure and sports brand to their properties.
“This is a great example of the shift in the retail market and consumer habits,” Pure Group chief executive officer Colin Grant said. “We’re bringing 600 to 700 people to the mall easily, and it’s the right people that want to spend.”
The yoga studio and gym chain was invited by the Pacific Place landlord, Swire Properties, to expand a new location there. Set to open around August, the 10,000-square-foot studio is going to be branded slightly more premium than other Pure locations and will display their in-house apparel line at the entrance of the store like any other retailer.
Last week, 2XU opened a Hong Kong flagship, rounding out a row of sports retail including Columbia and Haglofs in Leighton Centre in Causeway Bay. The Hysan Development Co.-owned building is now fully devoted to the category.
“There has been an explosion of fitness in Asia,” 2XU ceo Paul Higgins said, and it’s the company’s goal to open over 100 stores in Asia within two-and-a-half years, up from the 30 stores it keeps globally now.
There are even projects like The Forest in Mongkok by New World Development which are being developed from the ground up specifically as “sports malls.”
Charlotte Tsuei, founder of ath-leisure boutique Caelum Greene, said the demand has existed for a while and it’s taken a while for landlords to make the shift.
“The ‘wellness consumer’ in Hong Kong might be less advanced than in the U.S. or Europe, in my view this is more driven by a lack of supply than demand,” she said. “People here want to be more wellness-focused, but just haven’t to date had enough options available to them; something hopefully we’re addressing.”
The retailer was invited by the developer Hong Kong Land in mid-April to open a pop-up store in the Landmark inside their new third-floor wellness section, evolving the tenant mix from Landmark’s mainstay of fashion luxury retail.
According to Grant, the landlords “get it” now, and that’s helping Pure Group expand from its 23 locations now to open at least four more locations in Hong Kong and their first studio in Beijing.
“To be honest, I have to sometimes pinch myself because we’re in an industry that’s growing and not many are. We’ve got a lot of things aligning in our favor,” he said. “Millennials are far more interested in being healthy, you’ve got a growing consumer and landlords with malls more interested in what we do.
“You put that all together, and we’ve got a market that’s new. In the U.S., 20 percent of the population has a gym membership. In Hong Kong, that’s 4 percent. In China, that’s about a quarter of a percent. You’ve got a long way [to grow]. There’s definitely a great future for probably over 20 years.”
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