PPR buys majority stake in jeweller Qeelin

French luxury giant promises more new stores on the mainland and Hong Kong soon

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 11 December, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 11 December, 2012, 2:55am

Top luxury groups, apart from opening new stores in China, are acquiring promising local brands as a way to expand in the world's second-largest luxury market.

Paris-based conglomerate PPR, which owns Gucci, Saint Laurent and Bottega Veneta, said yesterday it has acquired a majority stake in mainland fine jewellery maker Qeelin, which will become the first brand from Asia under its control.

PPR did not disclose the cost but said the transaction should be finalised next month.

"The market for jewellery in China is very sizeable, and there's a tradition [of jewellery consumption] in the country. We are optimistic about the future growth space for Qeelin," said Alexis Babeau, managing director of PPR's luxury division.

"We will not only expand Qeelin in China but make it a world-level jewellery brand."

LVMH, the world's biggest luxury group and a rival of PPR, said in February it bought Chinese fashion brand Ochirly in an effort to target more mid- to high-end consumers in the country.

Another French luxury brand, Hermès, took a majority stake in Shanghai-based company Shang Xia in 2009 and vowed to build it into a top international brand.

Qeelin, founded by Hong Kong designer Dennis Chan and French entrepreneur Guillaume Brochard in 2004, has seven shops on the mainland, four in Hong Kong and three in Europe.

Babeau said the brand is "interesting", blending Chinese elements like the panda and wulu gourd (fruit in a figure 8 shape) into contemporary design. The price of a Qeelin necklace or a pair of earrings ranges from about HK$20,000 to HK$30,000. About 55 per cent of the firm's customers are mainlanders.

Qeelin will benefit from PPR's resources in advertising, property, distribution and e-commerce. More new stores will be opened on the mainland and Hong Kong soon, Babeau said.