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Luxury brand outlet opening in Suzhou

Updated: 2014-04-29 09:00
By Zheng Xin ( China Daily)

Value Retail, one of Europe's biggest discount outlet chains, will open its first luxury outlet in Suzhou, Jiangsu province, next month, with another five under discussion and construction.

The outlet chain will boast more than 100 luxury brands in the first phase of the complex starting May 15, with more to come after its grand opening in October.

Most of the brands are known by many Chinese consumers, "although we will also introduce a variety of less-familiar brands to the country", said Desiree Bollier, CEO of Value Retail.

The merchandise will be sold at a 40 percent to 50 percent discount off regular retail prices, she said.

The chain plans to open its second outlet in Shanghai and to come up with another four in five years' time.

Despite providing no clues to the other locations, Bollier said they won't necessarily be on the country's east coast, which is better off than its mountainous western counterpart.

"We might also consider cities like Chongqing for the new sites," said Bollier.

According to Bollier, it's important that the sites are near a popular destination, where people can shop while exploring local tourism resources.

She said it's also essential that the site be within driving distance, or connected by high-speed rail, to a major city where residents enjoy strong purchasing power and demand.

Suzhou, for instance, is a tourist destination within one hour's driving time, or a half-hour by train from Shanghai, Ruth Ang, China marketing director of the company, pointed out.

With more brands flocking to the outlet in the future, more jobs will be created, she said.

Many major retail operations are opening up large outlet chains in China. The country's largest retail group, Shanghai Bailian Shopping Center Co Ltd, opened its first outlet in Shanghai, which turned a profit the first year it was open, in 2006.

It later opened the Xiasha outlets in Hangzhou of Zhejiang province in 2010, and in Wuxi in 2013, where the store is twice the size of the original Shanghai outlet.

On the other hand, with hundreds of outlets spreading across the country, there are concerns about an outlet surplus. Some outlets in Qingdao, Chongqing and Ningbo were forced to shut down after operating for only one or two years.

But Bollier said she isn't worried. "There are so many hotels, but only the best one stands out," she said. "So it works for the outlets."

The company has been actively cooperating with local Chinese companies in recent years, including travel agencies, airlines and bank card associations.

"We have convinced all our brands to accept Union-pay, the national bank card association, as a form of payment," said Bollier. "We need to make sure the Chinese feel they are welcomed at the shopping mall from abroad."

Bollier said they have also been cooperating with China Eastern Airlines and the Chinese tourism operator Ctrip, to further promote their brands.

"Without the collaboration with the Chinese companies, we might not be successful," she said.

zhengxin@chinadaily.com.cn

 

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