Stella McCartney has designs on China expansion
British fashion house plans to open more stores across the mainland and in HK and Taipei to cash in on consumer appetite for luxury goods
British fashion house Stella McCartney will step up its retail development across China, following the lead of its stablemates under luxury goods conglomerate Kering.
Frederick Lukoff, the president and chief executive of Stella McCartney, said the company expected to head west and set up shop in Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province, after launching its flagship store in Beijing last week.
The company, which opened its first mainland shop in Shanghai in August last year, will soon launch a second store in that city. It will also open a second shop in Hong Kong and its first retail establishment in Taipei.
"We're looking at the whole market, and we've got room to grow," Lukoff told the South China Morning Post. "We are still negotiating in terms of location at other [mainland] cities."
He declined to provide investment targets but credited Kering's expertise with the brand's push into China.
With its new Beijing flagship, Stella McCartney now has 25 free-standing stores around the world. "The group has helped us very much in all the different aspects of doing business in China, including logistics, importing, labelling and real estate," Lukoff said.
London-based designer Stella McCartney, the daughter of former Beatle Paul McCartney, founded her eponymous brand as a 50-50 joint venture in 2001 with French group Kering, previously known as Pinault-Printemps-Redoute and PPR.
The other luxury brands under Kering include Gucci, Bottega Veneta, Saint Laurent, Brioni and Boucheron. The company also has controlling stakes in Alexander McQueen and the Sowind Group, owner of Girard-Perregaux.
Listed in Euronext Paris, Kering's revenue last year rose 20.8 per cent to €9.74 billion (HK$98.4 billion). Its chief competitors are conglomerates LVMH and Swiss group Richemont.
Stella McCartney's turnover rose 30 per cent last year to more than US$150 million, Lukoff said.
Its collection includes women's ready-to-wear, accessories, lingerie, eyewear, fragrance and kids' wear. It also has a long-term partnership with sporting goods giant Adidas for women's athletic wear.
In Hong Kong, Stella McCartney has a long-standing retail and distribution partnership with the Lane Crawford Joyce Group.
"We have been growing fast since day one," said Lukoff, who had previously worked at Lanvin, Paco Rabanne, Cisco Systems and Apple.
Stella McCartney, however, was late to expand on the mainland. "We feel now is the right time to enter the market because Chinese consumers have gained so much sophistication [in luxury goods]," he said. "Our no-logo women's ready-to-wear would not have caught on in [mainland] China five or 10 years ago."
Andrew Keith, the president at Lane Crawford and Joyce Boutique, said Hong Kong had proved effective to help mainland shoppers learn about Stella McCartney. "We're seeing 35 to 40 per cent of [the brand's] customers here are mainland Chinese," he said.