Corneliani is dramatically increasing its presence in China.
The upscale Italian men’s brand will open four additional stores in China over the next several weeks, bringing to 10 the number of retail units that Corneliani will have opened there this year. By the end of 2010, the label will have 17 stores in operation in China. The stores are operated through several franchise partners, each in charge of a specific area of the country, according to Maurizio Corneliani, finance director.
On Oct. 1, Corneliani opened a 525-square-foot store in Shanghai’s Times Square mall, a designer shopping destination on Huaihai Zhong Road that is considered on par with Milan’s Via Montenapoleone. Next up is a 394-square-foot store in the new Starlight 68 Mall in Chonqing Province, slated to open this month. At the end of November, a similarly sized unit will debut in Changzhou’s prestigious Changzhou Shopping Centre in the Jiangsu Province.
In the first half of December, two additional boutiques of about 656 square feet each will open in the Heyi Avenue Mall in Ningbo in the Zhejiang Province and within the new Van’s Department Store in Hefei in the Anhui Province.
All the stores are patterned after Corneliani’s flagship on Via Montenapoleone and are being designed by Sergio Corneliani, the company’s creative director, along with architects Studio di Architettura Ponti. The stores feature Tanganyika wood; ebony, black and beige leather; gray marble floors, and steel detailing. There are special fitting rooms for made-to-measure, and the stores will offer a wide range of fabric choices to create one-off garments.
Maurizio Corneliani said the company established an office in Shanghai in 2008 to explore expansion in that country. He pointed to the “increasing number of Chinese luxury consumers, so fascinated by Made in Italy,” as one of the primary reasons for growth in that part of the world.
According to a recent study by Bain & Co., the luxury market in Mainland China has risen 30 percent so far in 2010 to $12.8 billion, and the region is expected to become the third-largest luxury market in five years. Greater China, including Hong Kong, already ranks number three, showing 23 percent growth in 2010.
Corneliani’s strategy to expand in China mirrors that of other Italian luxury brands. At the WWD CEO Summit earlier this week, Ermenegildo Zegna, chief executive officer of the Ermenegildo Zegna Group, revealed that the country has grown to represent nearly 25 percent of sales and, within 15 years, that figure may jump to 50 percent. From 2005 to 2009, he said, sales in China rose 33 percent, and the brand now operates 62 stores in that country.
Brunello Cucinelli of the brand of the same name also is bullish on emerging markets. In an interview during a personal appearance at Saks Fifth Avenue on Tuesday, he said that China, Russia and India now account for 11 percent of his company’s sales, which will reach 200 million euros, or around $279 million at current exchange, this year. Three years ago, he said, these countries accounted for only 3 percent of sales. “And in the next three years, we expect it to be 15 percent,” he said.
Cucinelli, who will receive an honorary degree in ethics and philosophy from the University of Perugia next week, cited the “rising economy” in China and encouraged other brands to “embrace” the country and explore expanding there.