Formerly the JC Mandarin Hotel, one of the first five-star hotels built in Shanghai more than 30 years ago, the rebranding and revamp of JC Plaza took almost 10 years.
Real estate company Baohua Group purchased the JC Mandarin building in 2012. After gaining approval from Jingan District Bureau to change the function of the building into a shopping mall and office building complex, reconstruction started in 2017 and was completed in five years. According to the company, due to the complexity of the project, the cost to revamp JC Plaza was twice that of constructing a new mall.
JC Plaza faces fierce competition from across the street, where Plaza 66, the flagship mall of Hang Lung Properties, has held court as the most important luxury retail mall in Shanghai for more than 20 years.
JC Plaza aims to differentiate itself by offering new luxury labels. The new JC Plaza features four OTB brands prominently, including Maison Margiela, Jil Sander, Marni and Amiri, which was unveiled in early July.
“We wanted to differentiate, with the same high-end shopping experience, so the first thing we thought is maybe we could build a brand mix around Italian brands,” said Jian Yang, president of NBH Asset Management Group, the sister company of Baohua Group in charge of retail operations.
“We looked into brands like Prada, Ferragamo, Giorgio Armani first, but we also had to consider the young shoppers’ needs, especially Gen Z. So we started looking into younger luxury brands, those with enough customer awareness, and decided to introduce a refreshing luxury take to West Nanjing Road,” Yang said.
According to Yang, if Plaza 66 is mainly “built around the luxury powerhouse LVMH and French luxury houses,” JC Plaza aims to become a “home to Italian luxury brands.”
“Facing Plaza 66, diagonally across from Citic Square, and not far from Kerry Center and Réel Department Store on the west side, our project takes up a prominent spot in the region. But in terms of real estate, it’s really small. So after careful consideration, we decided to create a small but beautiful, small but refined, shopping mall project,” Yang said.
To further emphasize its “exquisite Shanghai lifestyle” positioning, the second floor features a lineup of local Chinese designer brands in a shopping mall context, including Shushu/Tong, Short Sentence, Le Fame and Erdos.
The third floor brings a host of new names into the China market, including furniture brands Yomei and Savoir, eyewear select shop Whitecrow and homeware concept store Justluxe. The fourth floor features Michelin-star hotel Moose, which serves local Huaiyang cuisine.
For local Chinese designer Shushu/Tong, sales have exceeded 1.3 million renminbi, or $190,460, since opening on July 19.
Labelhood, the retailer and emerging Chinese designer support scheme, inked a joint venture with Shushu/Tong to open the store. “This store is a crucial step in the development of the brand,” said Liushu Lei, one-half of the label Shushu/Tong. “We hope to reach a more diverse range of customers.”
The first Maison Le Fame, a customization line from local fashion brand Le Fame, known for its modern take on Old-Shanghai glamour, scored 700,000 renminbi, or $102,500, in sales since opening two weeks ago.
“There’s so much memory for old Shanghainese associated with JC Mandarin, and JC Plaza is carrying on that memory,” said Xiuman Wang, cofounder and general manager of Le Fame. “The pioneering, design-drive, alternative luxury retail proposition of JC Plaza also fits the brand’s vision.”
Short Sentence, the Shanghai-based contemporary fashion brand launched in 2015, picked JC Plaza as its second retail outpost. “Sales are very much beyond our expectations,” said Lin Guan, founder of the brand. “The location and the brand mix prompted us to decide to join fairly quickly.”