Cartier upbeat on China’s luxury comeback, planning new stores –

Consumers line at a Cartier store in Shanghai in September. [WANG GANG/FOR CHINA DAILY]

French luxury brand Cartier said the tremendous resilience that China has shown so far this year is a positive sign for the growth of the luxury sector going forward, and it has given the company more confidence in China.

The designer brand said it is seeking ideal locations to open potential new stores in China, and it is striving to upgrade every existing brick-and-mortar store to optimize customers’ shopping experiences. In July, Cartier reopened its revamped boutique store in Shanghai’s luxury brand hub Plaza 66.

“This year has been one of tribulations for much of the world. The tremendous resilience that China has shown-not just in its economy, but also through the spirit of the people-is a positive sign for the growth of the luxury sector,” Guillaume Alix, CEO of Cartier China, told China Daily.

“We understood that the situation remains uncertain, but as the business is bouncing back, it does give us more confidence in China and in our shared future,” he said.

In January, Cartier launched its online flagship store on Alibaba’s Tmall luxury pavilion, a special channel for luxury and premium brands. The online store offers a wide range of jewelry, watches and leather goods and it has seen positive sales performance so far this year.

A few years ago, as part of its global strategy, Cartier began a digital transformation in different markets, including in China. In 2015, the brand launched its official Chinese website.

“For quite a long time, Cartier has focused on digitalization and ensured that we embrace this new channel. We prioritized creating a space and experience online that could provide the same bespoke services as our physical boutiques,” Alix said.

“The Chinese luxury clientele is younger than traditional consumers of global luxury, but is equally sophisticated when it comes to tastes and demands. Moreover, they are deeply concerned about sustainability and the environment. We need to know how to ensure our distinctiveness and be appealing to China’s increasingly sophisticated consumer base.”

“In the face of China’s huge market, effectively communicating with our Chinese clients is a critical mission for us. As the China market becomes increasingly mature, we will also have more products that will be first available for Chinese customers in the future.”

Sales in China of personal luxury goods reached $28.47 billion last year, up 13.6 percent from 2018, and the amount is expected to hit $43.6 billion in 2024, according to market research company Euromonitor International.

Even as many parts of the world continue to battle COVID-19 and its negative impact, much of China has reopened. People are going out, streets are bustling and businesses have resumed almost normal operations, said a report by consulting firm McKinsey Company.

Daniel Zipser, senior partner at the consultancy, said global luxury sales in the first half were down around 30 percent year-on-year, largely driven by a soft US market.

For China, people who buy things in the country without leaving its borders are on the rise, and it is probably growing stronger than ever before, as not traveling abroad prevents them from buying luxury goods overseas. There is no fatigue of luxury spending in the China market, Zipser said.

Despite the pandemic, global investors remain optimistic about the China market. A large number of global enterprises are showing strong interest in seizing opportunities at the third China International Import Expo.

Richemont, Cartier’s parent company, has registered to attend the expo, which will run from Nov 5 to Nov 10 in Shanghai. Cartier is among a group of first-time participating heavyweight players of Richemont, and others include Van Cleef Arpels, Piaget and Vacheron Constantin.

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