CELINE’S CHINA SHOP: ONLY ACCESSORIES

Byline: Kavita Daswani

BEIJING — With handbags and shoes leading its growth in the region, Celine opened its first exclusive accessories boutique in China on July 9, its second in this part of the world.
Jean-Marc Loubier, Celine’s president and chief executive officer, presided over the unveiling of the 800-square-foot boutique in Beijing’s China World shopping center — the first since he took over as ceo less than a month ago.
The new boutique replaces a full-line Celine store, which carried men’s and women’s ready-to-wear and accessories and was located in the Palace Hotel. But given fundamental changes in the Chinese marketplace — such as a growing number of domestic consumers, as opposed to the tourist-driven luxury market of the past — Celine management decided that an out-of-hotel location would be more appealing.
Nicole Wang, Celine’s general manager for the Asian region, said the market “was a bit early for ready-to-wear” and that all indicators had shown instead that it was ready for its first Celine accessories boutique.
“Asians have always gravitated toward shoes and bags,” she said. “We have seen a 90 percent growth in the past six months in overall business in this region.”
Less than a year ago, Wang opened Asia’s first Celine accessories store, in Hong Kong’s Landmark shopping center. As in other luxury brands, men’s accessories are expected to fuel Celine’s business in China.
“Here, men’s business is always bigger than women’s,” said Loubier. “If we don’t provide for that, we lose the business.”
He added that specialist accessories boutiques would help to prime the company for continued expansion in the region.
While in China, Loubier and Wang scouted for other locations in Guangzhou and Dalian. At the end of the year, Celine will open a 1,200-square-foot boutique in Shanghai, at the Plaza 66 shopping center. This will carry the men’s ready-to-wear and accessories lines, as well as some women’s accessories.
Celine’s business in Asia outside Japan makes up about 20 percent of its worldwide turnover.
“Hong Kong overall is doing well, followed by China,” said Loubier. “An accessories boutique such as this will be traffic-generating,” he said, adding that Chinese consumers were now as well-versed in the seasonal changes of the collection as their European or American counterparts.
In August, Celine will open a 900-square-foot accessories boutique in Star Hill, a prestigious new shopping district in Kuala Lumpur. Other planned locales include Guam and Jakarta.

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