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Red envelopes, and much more besides

Updated: 2015-02-21 11:11
By Cecily Liu (China Daily)

london retailers gear up to reap benefits of chinese festival season

London's retailers are gearing up to attract Chinese shoppers for the Lunar New Year holiday with innovative marketing ideas and campaigns, many of which celebrate the Year of the Sheep.

Covent Garden, a trendy shopping and entertainment area in central London that is run by CAPCO Estate Management Team, has already begun hosting a campaign called the "Sheep Trial".

The campaign will encourage visitors to find a "hidden sheep" at 11 participating stores, snap a picture with it and post the photo onto Sina Weibo, the Chinese microblogging website, or WeChat, China's mobile social media service, for the chance to win a hamper worth 1,000 pounds ($1,540; 1,350 euros).

Inside the hamper will be a 150-pound voucher to spend in jeweler Cadenzza, a Hackett wool scarf, a candle from Penhaligon's and a pair of designer shoes from the United Nude collection.

The campaign runs until Feb 22.

Eleven other retailers at Covent Garden, including beauty, clothing, accessories and food stores, are celebrating the most important event on the Chinese calendar by offering customers discounts of up to 20 percent.

CAPCO Estate Management Team says Covent Garden welcomes thousands of visitors from China every year.

"Each year we see an increase in numbers over Chinese New Year. We are always looking at ways to improve the experience for our international guests. This new training initiative for staff across the district will enable us to better serve our Chinese customers," a CAPCO spokesperson says.

"We hope over Chinese New Year and beyond, our Chinese visitors will feel that they are getting the best possible service tailored to their needs in Covent Garden. We have always considered our Chinese visitors and worked to attract a mix of luxury and aspiring brands they want to see in Covent Garden, such as bringing in brands like Chanel, Burberry and Dior."

Other well-known brands in London are also launching Chinese New Year celebratory activities or products.

Luxury fashion brand Aspinal of London handed out hongbao, or red envelopes, filled with discounts at its Covent Garden and Brook Street locations from Feb 14 to 15. It also passed out red envelopes at its Chinatown and Leicester Square stores from Feb 18 to 19.

In Chinese culture, red envelops are filled with a small amount of cash and handed out during Chinese New Year to family and friends to promote luck during the festival season.

Aspinal of London is also offering a free heart-shaped key ring with a special Chinese New Year logo for customers who buy its products at the Brook Street or Covent Garden shops.

Gieves & Hawkes, a 205-year-old British luxury brand, is also handing out red packets to customers in celebration of Chinese New Year.

In the past year, there has been a 20 percent rise in Chinese customers, says Jolyon Bexon, general manager of Gieves & Hawkes' store at 1 Savile Row. Many of the Chinese customers are primarily interested British handmade tailoring.

The iconic British punk footwear brand Doc Martens is giving customers a 15-percent discount as part of its Chinese New Year campaign. The brand has also designed a limited edition Chinese New Year tote bag, which it will be giving to customers who spend more than 150 pounds in its Covent Garden shop.

The Cambridge Satchel Company, which produces satchels and other leather goods, hosted a VIP Chinese New Party in its Covent Garden store on Jan 16 and handed out bubble tea drinks and dim sum.

The department store Selfridges will be launching Chinese New Year gift cards tucked inside lucky red envelopes.

They will also have an in-house calligrapher creating uniquely designed cards, complimentary with any purchase made in The Wonder Room. Burberry will also have its own expert personalizing envelopes with traditional Chinese calligraphy, complimentary with any Burberry purchase.

Shoppers can also learn more about the makeup art of ancient Chinese woman with the help from one of RMK's makeup artists.

"Chinese customers are one of our most important international customers, so we want to make sure they have the best possible experience at Selfridges. To enhance this experience, Selfridges has very recently opened a new international customer services lounge, a space catering to the needs of tax-free shopping customers," a Selfridges spokesperson says.

The lounge, relocated from the Selfridges flagship store's lower-ground floor to the fourth floor, is now three times bigger, spread over 1,486 square meters.

Westfield, another major department store, was to hold various activities on Chinese New Year Day. Westfield Stratford City was to host a Chinese cooking class, while Westfield London was to have calligraphers and a Chinese tea ceremony. Both centers will be celebrating with traditional lion dance performances throughout the weekend.

Westfield Director Myf Ryan says that over the past few years, Westfield has invested in developing extra services for Chinese shoppers, including Mandarin-speaking concierge staff and mall guides and a website in Mandarin.

"We are also working more closely with travel agents in China to build awareness of Westfield in the UK and help to support our retailers by increasing Chinese foot traffic to the centers," Ryan says.

Red envelopes, and much more besides

Shoppers in search of bargains in London, and a Chinese looks for shoes in Selfridges department store. Photos provided to China Daily

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