An 11th hour twist quickly dissolving a new coalition government had Italy in a degree of disarray, but at least Bertelli thought another shot at elections would turn out positive.
“I am persuaded that if we were to go for new elections now, many people would vote for more pro-European parties,” he mused.
Whatever the environment in Italy, Bertelli was feeling great about China, where in Shaanxi province, the opening of the new SKP Xian mall also brought the debut of seven new stores for the group all at once: three under the Prada label, two for Miu Miu and two for Church’s.
The openings marked the group’s 100th boutique in greater China–excluding Taiwan–a long journey from its initial steps into its Mainland in 1995 when it opened stores in Beijing and Shanghai. While group-wide in the last year, performance has been flat, the country is growing nicely for the firm with Chinese consumers accounting for 36 percent of sales globally — 20 percent of that in China and the remaining 16 percent done internationally.
In the latest month, Prada shared it is growing within the Mainland at low-double digits and Miu Miu in the high-double digits. Hong Kong and Macau taken together is growing at a clip of approximately 30 percent.
Seven new stores is a significant investment into a second-tier city, best known as the site of the terracotta warriors, but he shares that the lag between the first tier city consumer is only slight. In any case, the ceo says “Whether your home is Beijing or Xian, it doesn’t matter because it’s digital.”
In December, the company made the bold move of launching the brand’s directly operated e-commerce in China, even before a global site which the company says is to come in the third quarter of this year. Getting their own in-house digital experience is key, Bertelli felt, although they may also use online marketplaces as part of the mix further down the road.
“It’s going well,” Bertelli said of their China online business. “Of course, we’re still working on the organization and logistics, especially returns, we’re still in the process of completing that arrangement.”
Currently five percent of the China business overall, the group’s immediate target for its online side is to reach 8 percent. Returns hover around 15 percent, but Bertelli commented that they were less return-happy than Americans.
“You know the Chinese consumers are much more polite, in the U.S., returns may be as high as 30 percent. It’s crazy. It’s a huge effort,” Bertelli said.
He added: “Whenever we have problems, it’s with the Anglo-Saxon countries, it’s never with the Far East. We don’t know why.”