New store in IFC Mall comes as Harvey Nichols moves into HK and spending continues to rise Lane Crawford International is responding to incursions on its home turf by the likes of famed retailer Harvey Nichols with an aggressive and high-profile expansion in Central. The upmarket department store operator will invest $100 million in a new, 80,000 square foot flagship store at the IFC Mall in Central, according to a source familiar with the company's plans. 'It will be Lane Crawford's largest investment in the region since the Asian financial crisis in 1997,' the source said. Venerable Lane Crawford, established 153 years ago, continues to be frequented by Hong Kong's rich and famous. It was privatised by Wheelock & Co in 1999. Last year, it was sold to a family trust linked to Wheelock chairman Peter Woo Kwong-ching. Under the helm of Mr Woo's daughter, Jennifer Woo, Lane Crawford's IFC Mall outlet will be its largest. It is conceived as an 'international fashion centre' concept store that will offer more than 1,000 designer labels. It is understood the retailer's current flagship store and city landmark, Lane Crawford House on Queen's Road Central, will close. '[Lane Crawford's new store] will be totally different from its four existing ones,' the source said. 'Lane Crawford will bring the new concept to China with Beijing as its next target.' Lane Crawford also has an outlet in Shanghai, and franchised operations in Hangzhou and Harbin. According to the source, Lane Crawford's new flagship will occupy one floor and will be linked by a corridor to the new Four Seasons hotel, where a VIP zone earmarked for fashion shows and other functions will be created. The 1,000-room, six-star Four Seasons is scheduled to open next year at the IFC complex. These and other details will be officially announced next month, with an opening scheduled for later this year. A Lane Crawford spokesperson declined comment, saying only that the company's plans had not been finalised. Last year, rival luxury retailer Dickson Concepts (International) announced a $100 million investment to launch a 60,000 sq ft Harvey Nichols store at The Landmark, also in Central. Colliers International research director Simon Lo said the aggressive expansion plans of luxury retailers such as Lane Crawford reflected their strong confidence the retail market. 'Luxury retailers are willing to spend a fortune for their new flagship stores to prepare for a rebound in the market,' Mr Lo said, adding a growing number of international retailers are looking for flagship premises in prime locations. In addition to bringing Harvey Nichols to The Landmark next year, Dickson Concepts is also opening a $50 million Seibu department store and a Dickson Watch and Jewellery shop this year at Langham Place in Mongkok. Lane Crawford's investment comes as Hong Kong's 68-month descent into deflation appears to be ending, and the continued influx of mainland tourists breathes new life into the retail sector. Retail sales are growing at 19.7 per cent year on year.