With the European economic outlook still uncertain, many businesses which count the Eurozone as their primary market are travelling further afield in search of a more stable consumer base. Fashion retailers in particular are seeking to focus on online retailing in areas suffering financially and building up commercial property bases in markets which are fast becoming international powerhouses.
Last week, Arcadia owner Sir Philip Green joined those seeking to tap the vast numbers of Chinese consumers by opening Topshop’s first store in Hong Kong. He called the branch a “stepping stone” in the chain’s ambition to expand rapidly across China after seeing the success of rival chains Abercrombie & Fitch and Victoria’s Secret in this flourishing new market.
The 14,000 square foot property is located in Hong Kong’s central business district – an advantageous position in terms of attracting passing custom. At present, the focus is very much on the Topshop aspect of the business, although Sir Philip has not ruled out introducing a branch of Topman once the long-term prospects of the existing store have been determined.
However, the area has become incredibly popular thanks to the number of international brands seeking a foothold in China, and as such rents have been pushed up significantly across the country as a whole. According to Sir Philip, acting fast is essential for retailers looking to find a well-placed property at a reasonable price.
He says; “It’s been hard, as most retailers will tell you, finding the right location in Hong Kong at a sort of sensible price.
“This just came up, and fortunately we were able to put it together very quickly.”
While the store is certainly well positioned to introduce Topshop to a new market, Sir Philip has further ambitions for the brand – namely, the opening of much larger flagship stores in two of China’s most densely populated cities. However, he has voiced caution at the prospect of jumping in head first, highlighting the need to accurately determine market conditions before expanding further.
He continues; “I’d like to have a flagship in Beijing and a flagship in Shanghai.
“If we can find 2,000 to 3,000 square metres (21,500 to 32,000 square feet approximately) we’d like to have a Topman as well – if we can find two locations, off we go.
“You need some local expertise, but I’m not afraid to open one or two on my own.”
Do you think Topshop will prove to be a success in this new market, or will the mass influx of European and American brands flood the market and overwhelm consumers to the extent that some incomers will be forced out?
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