HONG KONG — Italian luxury leather goods company Valextra has opened its first shop here, its second destination in Asia after Tokyo.
Chief executive officer Massimo Suppanciq said he doesn’t believe in “beginning big.” To that end, he wanted a small store — on the ground floor of the luxury Landmark mall, the unit is a mere 660 square feet — as well as an intimate space, which manifests in a facade that blocks the back half of the store from view.
Part of not beginning big also includes the goal of keeping only one store in Hong Kong with the intention of making it a destination, he added.
Some people already seemed to have tapped into that idea. Pre-sales at the new Hong Kong store were good, Suppanciq said, along with sales from the first day and the official opening day late last month. Sales figures for those five days put Valextra “ahead of budget,” he said.
Top sellers included the Boston small handbag and the Linea S small handbag, which retail for $1,769 and $1,308, respectively, at current exchange from the Hong Kong dollar.
Choosing the right partner in each market is important. When it came to Hong Kong, Suppanciq only wanted to work with Jennifer Woo, president of Lane Crawford, and Bonnie Brooks, president of the Lane Crawford Joyce Group. Woo and Brooks are modern, energetic businesswomen who are tasteful, Suppanciq said, adding that his brand caters to precisely that kind of woman.
Valextra, which was founded in 1937 in Milan, specializes in handmade leather products made of exotic skins such as ostrich and crocodile. The brand is rooted in an artisanal tradition that focuses on design and craftsmanship. Suppanciq bought the brand in 2003 with a silent partner, a large Milan construction company.
For the rest of Asia, Suppanciq has a five-year expansion plan. He expects to open two stores in China, in Shanghai and Beijing, as well as one store each in Taiwan and Macau. Lane Crawford Joyce Group Distribution Co. will be the distributor in each of those countries and regions.
Valextra has two shops in Milan; one each in Rome, London, Dallas and Tokyo, and two in New York, including one in Barneys New York.
In addition to not starting big in new markets, the group wants to grow “quietly.” Once a store is opened in a market, Suppanciq said he tends to leave that market and allow the brand to grow slowly at the helm of a partner, which he wants to have in every market where Valextra is located.
The company doesn’t push its product but instead feels a pulling effect, he said, which is the way he likes it.