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更新时间:2014-5-14 13:51:09 来源:华尔街日报中文网 作者:佚名

Luxury Outlets Sprout in China

Luxury-goods makers, seeing sales growth in China slow for the likes of handbags and designer wear, are importing a solution from other continents: discount malls.

Familiar sights along U.S. highways or in the remote outskirts of European cities, outlet malls peddling high-end brands are now popping up in China. Shoppers can wander a faux Italian village--flush with Roman architecture and flashy fountains--where a genuine Burberry trench coat, for example, sells for about 9,000 yuan ($1,450), some 40% off the original retail price in China.

Value Retail PLC, a London-based developer and operator of luxury shopping outlets in Europe, plans to invest about $450 million in three new outlets in China over the next five years, bringing its total to five.

London-based investment management firm TIAA Henderson Real Estate is expanding an existing outlet in the northern city of Tianjin and opening two more in Shanghai and the southern Chinese city of Foshan. It also plans to acquire more sites in central, west and north China this year and next.

The companies are betting that a customer base that once equated luxury with paying top price is demanding more deals. 'Affluent Chinese shoppers have increasing brand awareness while seeking greater discounts, ' said Kenny Sim, portfolio manager at TIAA Henderson Real Estate. The malls are seeking shoppers who may eschew stores in China because of high prices and high taxes, perhaps instead going abroad for their designer handbags and shoes.

'Prices here are cheaper compared to the stores in the city center, and I come here because it's on my way home from work,' said Qian Shuwen, a Shanghai resident in her late 20s shopping at Bailian Outlets Plaza in west Shanghai.

The deep-discount strategy does carry the risk of tarnishing a luxury brand's name, though Avery Booker, a partner at consulting firm China Luxury Advisors, notes that by providing a way for brands to discount outside their own stores, the malls may help them preserve their pricey, exclusive images. Still, Value Retail and TIAA Henderson--which are building outlets near Shanghai Disneyland--declined to disclose the names of tenants.

Image aside, experts say, the malls can help brands clear inventory that built up as the luxury business was hit by a slowdown in economic growth, tougher competition and a clampdown on lavish official spending and gift-giving. Luxury-goods sales in mainland China rose to 116 billion yuan last year, but that marked a slowing in sales growth to 2% from 7% in 2012, according to consulting firm Bain & Co.

'Demand for full-priced items has declined since more than a year ago because of the government's austerity measures,' said Joe Zhou, head of research, East China, in Jones Lang LaSalle, a real-estate consulting firm.

The discount malls also attract shoppers who might otherwise buy their luxury goods from buying agents on the gray market. Consultant Mr. Booker said many Chinese coming from overseas trips with luxury goods resell them in informal markets at home, where they can undercut official channels and still profit, thanks to lower overseas prices. Some luxury-goods makers, including Italian fashion brand Gucci, a unit of Kering SA, and France's LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, try to fight this by limiting the quantity of goods shoppers can buy at stores beyond China's borders.

The outlets are a sign that China's luxury market is maturing and beginning to look more like those of Europe and the U.S., said Philip Guarino, Europe director of China Luxury Advisors.

'Consumers in Shanghai and the other tier-one cities are very sophisticated and won't buy at full price at home,' said Jasmine Sun, a retail consultant at Smith Street Solutions in Shanghai, referring to China's most-developed cities. 'The China market hasn't been fair to Chinese consumers. In Europe and the U.S., consumers have discounts and outlets. In China, they are working toward that same international standard.'

Outlets typically stock items that are off-season, discounted by as much as 50% from the original retail price. A shopper wouldn't see the same item at the outlet and a flagship store at the same time.

A Marystow Burberry trench coat at an outlet in Shanghai costs 9,000 yuan, down from the original price of 15,000 yuan on the price tag. A similar-looking but probably more recent Kensington trench coat in a regular Burberry store at a shopping mall in Shanghai costs 16,000 yuan. According to Burberry's official Hong Kong website, that same Kensington coat costs 15,000 Hong Kong dollars (12,052 yuan) there. In the U.S., it goes for $1,495 (9,311 yuan).

To be sure, luxury brands have discounted and even opened up outlet stores before now. Gucci opened two outlet stores in China in 2012, one in the northern city of Tianjin and the other in southern Guangzhou, a spokesman said, declining to comment on any future outlet-store plans. A spokeswoman for Germany's Hugo Boss AG said the company doesn't report its outlet locations, but the company has 10 outlet stores across China.

Even French luxury company Hermès International SA has started selling its goods at discount in China, according to a Hermès spokeswoman. She declined to disclose further details.

For Holly Wei, a 30-year-old songwriter, the current outlets in China still pale beside the ones she visited in the U.S.

'The brands and the range of items are not updated here as quickly as in New York, so I don't have to come here that often,' said Ms Wei. 'Maybe just once or twice a year is enough.'



Value Retail PLC计划未来五年在中国投资约4.5亿美元兴建三家新的奥特莱斯店,使其中国店面总数达到五个。Value Retail是一家在欧洲运营奢侈品奥特莱斯店的开发商和运营商,总部设在伦敦。

一家总部在伦敦的投资管理公司TIAA Henderson Real Estate正在华北城市天津扩建现有的奢侈品奥特莱斯店,同时在上海和华南城市佛山增开两家新店面。该公司还计划2014年和2015年在华中、华西和华北收购更多场地。

这些公司认为,过去把奢侈品等同于高价商品的中国消费者如今对奢侈品折扣的需求越来越大。TIAA Henderson Real Estate投资组合经理西姆(Kenny Sim)表示,中国富人群体的品牌意识不断提高,在购买奢侈品时追求更多折扣。因为奢侈品在中国价高税重,许多顾客宁愿出国购买高档手包和鞋子,奢侈品折扣店希望把这部分消费群体拉回来。

20多岁的上海居民钱舒雯(音)正在上海百联奥特莱斯(Bailian Outlets Plaza)购物。她说,这里的价格比市中心便宜,她来这里是因为下班顺道。

大幅折扣可能会使商家的品牌形象受到损害。但中国奢侈品咨询(China Luxury Advisors)合伙人艾佛里•布克(Avery Booker)指出,折扣店的存在使得品牌商户不必在自己的商店里打折促销,对它们宝贵的、独一无二的品牌形象可能是一种保护。在上海迪士尼乐园(Disneyland)附近修建奥特莱斯店的Value Retail和TIAA Henderson均拒绝透露租户的名称。

专家们称,撇开品牌形象问题不谈,奥特莱斯店有助于解决库存积压问题。由于经济增速放缓,竞争加剧,加之中国政府掀起了打击官员腐败和请客送礼的行动,奢侈品正面临库存增加的压力。咨询公司贝恩(Bain & Co.)的数据显示,2013年中国大陆奢侈品销售额增长2%,至人民币1,160亿元,增幅低于2012年的7%。

房地产咨询公司仲量联行(Jones Lang Lasalle)华东地区研究主管周德平(Joe Zhou)称,由于政府提倡节俭,从一年多以前开始,全价商品的需求就已经下降了。


中国奢侈品咨询欧洲部主管菲利普•格里诺(Philip Guarino)称,奥特莱斯店的增多表明中国的奢侈品市场正在趋于成熟,变得越来越欧美化。

Smith Street Solutions驻上海的零售顾问Jasmine Sun说,上海和其他一线城市的消费者非常精明,不会在国内购买全价商品。她表示,中国市场对中国消费者不太公平;在欧洲和美国,消费者有折扣店和奥特莱斯;中国消费者也在努力争取同样的国际标准。




实际上,在此之前已经有奢侈品商户开始打折甚至开设奥特莱斯店面。意大利时尚品牌古驰的发言人说,2012年,古驰在中国开设了两家奥特莱斯专卖店,一家在天津,一家在广州。这位发言人对未来开设更多奥特莱斯专卖店的计划不予置评。德国品牌雨果博斯(Hugo Boss AG)的发言人表示,他们不会提供奥特莱斯专卖店的具体位置,只说公司在中国有10家奥特莱斯店。

根据法国奢侈品公司爱马仕(Hermes International SA)发言人的说法,即便是爱马仕这样的品牌也已经开始在中国打折销售商品。该发言人没有披露更多细节。

30岁的歌曲作家Holly Wei说,中国现有的奥特莱斯与她在美国见过的奥特莱斯仍无法相提并论。