Tang-Tang-Tang-TANG … Sing it like Beethoven's Fifth. It's the name of businessman and bon vivant David Tang's new retail empire. So, what what what WHAT will it sell?
It won't bear any resemblance to the Shanghai Tang fashion chain he founded and sold in 2006 to Richemont, a retailer. He's fairly scathing about the wares sold by his former shop. In a word: "Awful."
Over lunch at the Foreign Correspondents' Club last week, to launch a book to which he has contributed, titled My First Trip to China, Tang let slip that he's about to burst forth on the retail stage once again.
This time it will be about lifestyle, so the outlets will be like flats - each with a kitchen, study, bedroom and bathroom, and all exquisitely decorated with Tang-selected wares, all for sale.
He thinks people have got to come up with something different in retail now, to fend off competition from the internet. As it stands, Tang says, people don't need to go out to shop. They can satisfy most of their retail needs sitting at home, online. His new venture will provide a richer experience than the internet, he says, enticing people to his flat-cum-showroom, "because I don't think people can simply sit in front of a screen forever," he says.
He also thinks people are lousy at imagining how an item like a lampshade would look in their home. As a result, they like to buy things after looking at objects in a physical setting. "People would be much more attracted to a lampshade if I actually built a sitting room or a bedroom, which probably has more luxurious things than they would have at home, to maximise the context," he says.
Tang's new shops will target China's rising middle class, who for the first time have kitchens. Traditionally, they didn't have a room to cook in. For them, he will offer a redesigned, "glamorous" rice cooker. He's even redesigned the electrics in the bathroom to get rid of the need for adaptors.
For his first Tang Tang Tang Tang, he's bidding for the ground floor site under The Pawn in Wan Chai, formerly the restaurant OVOlogue.
For more details on indiscriminate discretionary spending, see Anna's wealth blog at scmp.com/wealthblog