LONDON — Harrods is committed to China like no other British retailer.
Following two successful in-person events during the pandemic in Shanghai, which involved its managing director Michael Ward going through a four-weeklong double quarantine with the team, Harrods on Friday unveiled a pop-up in its Knightsbridge store celebrating Chinese fashion design.
Running till mid-December, the space features playful puffer jackets from Chen Peng, the inaugural winner of the Yu Prize, which Harrods serves as a strategic partner, as well as pieces from Shushu/Tong, Ruohan, and WMWM, provided by the Shanghai-based fashion boutique and emerging designer support platform Labelhood.
Poppy Lomax, buying manager for women’s wear at Harrods, said the huge increase in creative output from the Chinese luxury industry in recent years has been “really exciting to watch.”
“I am thrilled that we have the opportunity to offer our customers must-have pieces from some of the most exciting designers in the market right now. Our local and international customers are always eager to learn of younger brands in the industry and trust us to bring them the best,” she added.
Hit hard by COVID-19 and Brexit, Harrods saw its turnover and profits plunge in fiscal 2020-21.
According to figures released this week on Companies House, the retailer swung to a loss of 57.3 million pounds in the 52 weeks to Jan. 30, 2021. That compares to a profit of 191.4 million pounds in the previous year. Turnover fell by more than 50 percent to 429.5 million pounds and gross transaction value (including value-added tax) in the period fell by 50.1 percent to 1.1 billion pounds.
Faced with the challenge, the British retailer implemented a proactive approach to engage with affluent Chinese consumers who are unable to travel to London due to China’s tight border controls.
Harrods revealed that it has increased its presence in China substantially over the past year, starting with the opening of The Residence Shanghai, its first private shopping space dedicated to its Chinese clients, in October 2020. The concept was expanded to Beijing in June.
Last month during Shanghai Fashion Week, the retailer hosted a three-day incubator program called The Harrods Hive. It included networking events and panel discussions with industry leaders, such as Kering, Labelhood, Tx Huaihai,and Xiaohongshu, that allowed for individuals from varied disciplines across the industry to join forces.
In an earlier interview with WWD, Ward said “There has never been a more exciting time for the Chinese luxury industry.…From taking this concept to Shanghai Fashion Week, to making it a more permanent aspect of our growing presence in China, our goal is to foster more cooperation amongst our industry’s biggest talents and build support for the luxury brands of tomorrow.”
This month, the company is due to open its first Harrods tea rooms concept in Shanghai, a space designed around bringing Harrods’ traditional British afternoon tea to Shanghai in a contemporary environment.
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