HONG KONG — Chinese high street label Bosideng has shuttered its London flagship, the brand confirmed Friday, citing poor operating conditions.
The six-story store on South Molton Street, which shut in January, was a high-profile part of the brand’s overseas expansion when founder Gao Kedeng was pushing for a Chinese clothing company to gain international cachet.
The company said it made the decision to shut down “after having considered the economic uncertainty after the Brexit and the returns on investment,” and has temporarily rented out the 6,292-square-feet space on the corner of South Molton and Oxford streets
“The group may consider entering the British market again when the business environment is favorable. In 2011, the group acquired the property and established its first overseas flagship store there. The group has gained valuable experience in an overseas retail market and enhanced its reputation there and in the capital market after having operated the flagship store for several years.”
Its English-language U.K. web site has also ceased operating. Bosideng London’s Instagram account — the brand runs separate accounts for different countries — had just 400 followers and last posted in November announcing a 50 percent off sale.
The store’s opening in 2012 was timed to the London Olympics. It stocked a new, premium men’s wear collection of ready-to-wear and accessories designed by Nick Holland and Ash Gangotra and featured the brand’s signature down-filled and quilted outerwear. There was little buzz around the flagship, which was often empty and running promotions, in what has become a brutally competitive environment.
The U.K. high street is a ruthless environment — but not because of the Brexit, which has softened the pound and encouraged international shoppers to snap up bargains.
Instead, the big, international fast-fashion giants such Zara, Mango, H&M and Uniqlo have rapidly snatched market share from local and international competitors alike. London’s landlords are becoming pickier about how they curate their spaces and neighborhoods, while local taxes paid by retailers are set to skyrocket later this year.
It’s no wonder that a relatively unknown Chinese retailer decided to close up shop.
Bosideng originally launched in 1976 and has 6,000 points of sale in China, according to the brand’s web site. Back in 2014, the brand had a network of 11,000 stores in its home country and told WWD how it planned a large international push, scouting for real estate in Manhattan and elsewhere across the U.S. Besides the U.K., it had also expanded into Germany and Italy, where it still operates.
The label originally positioned itself as a younger Hugo Boss, with office wardrobe mix-and-match pieces, but has undergone a significant rebranding as a down outerwear specialty brand. Its latest collection offers a series of puffer jackets similar in look and pricing to Uniqlo and the company has even expanded into a home bedding line.
The company also announced it had disposed of its 51.04 percent stake in the non-down apparel brand Mogao for 40.5 million yuan or about $5.9 million. It said the sale would allow them to “focus its resources on apparel brands with greater potential.”