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Targeting the market for luxury
By Li Xiang (China Daily)
Updated: 2009-10-26 08:29

Targeting the market for luxury
A model poses beside a Porsche Carrera 911 GT3 at a distribution outlet of the Jebsen Group in Hong Kong. [Asianewsphoto] 

Jebsen Group, a Hong Kong-based marketing and distribution company, is accelerating its investment in the mainland luxury consumer market where the demand for luxury goods remains unabated despite the recession.

"The luxury sector is going to be one of our major focuses in the future because we believe Chinese consumers will lead the growth in the global luxury market," said Denis Li, director of the Jebsen Group.

The company is representing international high-end luxury products - including German luxury car Porsche, Swiss watch Raymond Weil and Italian yacht maker Riva - in the mainland market.

Li said the financial crisis did slow down the growth of Jebsen's business in China last year, but added that it has fully recovered since the second quarter of this year.

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China consumed $8.6 billion worth of luxury goods in the past two years, surpassing the United States to become the world's second-largest luxury goods market after Japan, according to the US-based World Luxury Association.

The association estimates that China will be the biggest market for luxury goods by 2015, accounting for 32 percent of the global market.

Jebsen is taking advantage of growing purchasing power in China, making consumer products a key growth sector in its strategic business focus.

Cameras and photography-related products are Jebsen's other consumer business in China, and the brands it represents include Casio and Pentax.

Li said camera sales doubled and distribution channels increased twofold over the past five years.

The company plans to develop a dealership network reaching 100 cities in the mainland by 2011.

"The way we compete with other companies is to focus on the niche market and medium-sized companies," he said.

"Our strength lies in product diversification and our long-term model to nurture the market."

Established in 1895, Jebsen Group started out as a shipping agency. The company later evolved into marketing and distribution, serving as a bridge between international manufacturers and the Chinese market for more than 100 years.

The company is currently strengthening its strategic business focus in consumer, industry, beverage and luxury sectors.

China, as the most important market for Jebsen, accounts for 60 percent of the group's turnover, which reached $1 billion in 2008.

While actively pushing into the consumer products market, Jebsen is also working to consolidate its foothold in the industrial sector, which has been the base of the company's business in China.

Jebsen recently helped advance power generation solutions for natural resources in China's coastal markets and is becoming an active player in the renewable energy sector.

For example, the company supplied General Electric's (GE) Jenbacher gas engines to two chicken farms in suburban Beijing and in Shandong province. The GE gas engine will use biogas created from chicken manure to generate 14.6 million kWh of electricity annually.

The success of the chicken farms prompted Jebsen to expand the business model to other industries such as the food sector, which produces tons of biogas annually through fermentation.

"Because of our unique knowledge of different parts of the market, we can build the bridge to new industries and open new opportunities for our manufacturing partners," said Lorenz Zimmermann, Jebsen's industrial director.

Jebsen is also looking to the thriving solar industry in China for business opportunities in the future and seeking cooperation with Chinese manufacturers.

"China is fast becoming a strong manufacturing base for products like solar cells," Zimmermann said.

"We might have one of the first opportunities to work with Chinese companies to represent them both in the Chinese market and in the international market," he said.

(For more biz stories, please visit Industries)