Topshop, the popular British high street brand, stakes its claim in Hong Kong's crowded fashion retail market with the opening today of its flagship store in Central.
The company's 14,000 square foot, two-floor shop at the corner of Queen's Road Central and Pottinger Street also marks the first step in its search for a home on the mainland, where managing director Mary Homer said expansion in major cities was planned.
"We always want to go into any market with a stand-alone flagship store," Homer told the South China Morning Post. "Shanghai and Beijing are obvious locations for us [in expanding on the mainland], but these things are dictated by finding the right property and conversations about getting a partner. Having local expertise in a new market is invaluable."
In Hong Kong, Topshop has partnered with the luxury retail group Lane Crawford to establish a competitive presence in a city where all the leading international "fast-fashion" brands can be found.
Retailers have used the term "fast fashion" to describe apparel collections based on the most recent trends, which are produced swiftly to allow more consumers to buy the designs at a lower cost.
Andrew Keith, the president of Lane Crawford, said Topshop's merchandise, from casual to formal wear, footwear to accessories and make-up collections, offered "amazing attention to quality and democratic prices, which the Hong Kong market really respond to".
Topshop is among the acknowledged leaders and innovators in the fast-fashion market segment, where the competition includes other prominent fashion chains, such as the Swedish clothing retailer H&M, the Japanese casual wear giant Uniqlo and Zara, part of the Spanish apparel conglomerate Inditex.
"This is why we have to be different and we have to keep up being different," Homer said.
She said Topshop, which has 137 international franchises in 37 countries, delivered "300 new [apparel] lines every single week, which comes to about 16,000 lines a year. "Customers will find that there's always something new in the store," she said. "Our customers demand must-have pieces of the moment and to have it first."
Topshop is controlled by Arcadia Group, a privately held retail conglomerate that also owns other British high street retailers including Miss Selfridge, Dorothy Perkins, Burton and the men's clothing specialist Topman.
In December, Arcadia sold a 25 per cent stake in Topshop to the US private equity firm Leonard Green & Partners for US$805 million.
Philip Green, Arcadia's owner and chief executive, said at the time the deal was made to pay off the group's debts and raise money for further expansion.