London's luxury brands eye Chinese travelers

By Bao Chang (China Daily)
Updated: 2010-09-16 09:26
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London's luxury brands eye Chinese travelers

A shopper leaves the Cartier shop on New Bond Street in London. New West End is seeking to attract more wealthy Chinese to the city's high-end shopping district. [Chris Ratcliffe / Bloomberg]

Company hopes to cash in on wealthy tourists visiting London

BEIJING - New West End Company, the management agency of luxury goods retailers on London's Bond Street, has launched an initiative called London Luxury to encourage more Chinese travelers to splurge in the city's luxury shopping district.

"We expect Chinese visitors will spend 120 million pounds ($186 million) in London this year (36 percent higher than last year) after the launch of London Luxury in Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong," Richard Dickinson, chief executive officer of New West End Company, told China Daily.

The London Luxury program focuses on two initiatives. The primary objective is to provide Chinese travelers with insider-led shopping tours offering professional knowledge of luxury goods.

The other is to give Chinese members of London Luxury a shop-and-stay package deal at five-star hotels in London.

"Apart from special services offered to Chinese travelers, our company will also cooperate with some leading travel agencies in China to launch London shopping tours, as China has become the fastest growing international market for New West End."

International tax refund company Global Blue forecast that the average transaction by Chinese shoppers purchasing luxury brands in London will increase by 10 percent annually over the next two years from the current 879 pounds.

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London's West End district, including Bond Street, Mount Street, Jermyn Street and Savile Row, is home to around 300 luxury retailers, and is expected to compete internationally as a leading destination for luxury shopping with Paris, Milan, New York and Tokyo.

New West End is not the only company focusing on the business opportunities brought about by the increasing number of travelers from China.

Switzerland-based Global Blue launched a program in Beijing and Shanghai this month to display its brand in outlets of top-tier travel agencies such as China International Travel Service, offering Chinese tourists access to information about shopping in their future destinations.

By 2020, there will be more travelers from China, accounting for 9 percent of international travelers globally, according to data from Global Blue.

"We will increase our investment on advertising in China to 4 million euros next year to make Chinese travelers more aware of the tax refund services while they travel abroad," Arjen Kruger, vice-president of Global Blue, said.

Global Blue has invested more than 2 million euros in the Chinese market this year to promote its brand among Chinese travelers. This included the establishment of a Chinese-language website.

Last year, more than 16 million international travelers utilized the tax refund services offered by Global Blue, and 2 million of them were from China, accounting for 12.5 percent of the total number.

In the first half of this year, tax-free shopping sales to Chinese shoppers increased by 68 percent and tax-free shopping transactions increased 34 percent, compared with the same period last year.

For each transaction, Global Blue charges around 4 percent of the drawback of the duties as a commission fee.