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UK stores try to get Chinese lovers in the mood

中国日报网 2012-08-23 10:21



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London's luxury department store Westfield took steps to woo high-spending Chinese shoppers with a promotional activity ahead of the Chinese festival of romance on Thursday.

For the first time, Westfield is offering Chinese guests a VIP pass that gives them a discount of up to 25 percent in more than 80 shops and restaurants.

"It is done very much to engage the local Chinese community, and we are hoping the response we get from this year's promotional activity will make it viable for it to be a part of our annual calendar," said Myf Ryan, Westfield's UK marketing manager.

Westfield developed the promotion in conjunction with the Chinese Business Association, a trade association for Chinese businesses affiliated with the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

The VIP pass will be available to employees of the association's 60 member businesses. It can be picked up any day of the week, and is valid for two weeks upon collection.

To promote the deal, Westfield has also designed an invitation in Chinese that says, "Happy Chinese Valentine's" in gold letters against a red background. Both gold and red are auspicious colors in Chinese culture.

"What we've seen in terms of trends is that Chinese shoppers are increasing every year, and they do have a tendency toward luxury brands," Ryan said.

Westfield's initiative is the latest move by luxury stores to tailor services for Chinese shoppers, who were responsible for half of all luxury sales in Europe last year, according to a Financial Times article quoting tax refund provider Global Blue.

Global Blue also estimated that Chinese consumers last year spent 11,000 euros ($13,000) on average on each shopping trip to Europe, Singapore or Hong Kong, where luxury products can be a third of the cost in China because of import duties.

Competing against Westfield for Chinese shoppers are London department stores John Lewis, Harrods and Selfridges, all of which have installed terminals for Union Pay, China's largest bankcard processor.

Chinese shoppers at John Lewis' flagship store in central London's Oxford Street spent 64 percent more this May than a year ago.

This encouraging number prompted it to launch a cultural training program to help its member shops better understand the habits of Chinese shoppers.

It also added Mandarin store guides and brochures with tax refund advice at information desks.

As a result, John Lewis witnessed a surge of Chinese shoppers this summer, who spent 79 percent more this July compared to a year ago.

Earlier this year, Harrods launched a Mandarin store guide application on Android, and an account on Sina Weibo, the Chinese version of Twitter.

Harrods CEO Michael Ward said at a forum last month that Chinese shoppers are now spending nine times as much at Harrods as they did in 2008, and five times more than US visitors.

"This is really about educated shoppers. They know exactly what they want when they come to shop with us, and they expect the best service. It's incumbent on us to change our business model for this new and emerging market," Ward said.

He said that Harrods' food hall has changed its menu to add more dim sum and sushi. Harrods also has 150 Mandarin-speaking shop assistants "to make sure we welcome people correctly," Ward said.

Meanwhile, new data released by the World Tourism Organization showed that spending by Chinese visitors is on the rise, according to a Guardian newspaper article last week.

The data showed that Chinese travelers spent $72 billion overseas last year, a 33 percent increase from $54 billion in 2010. They rank only slightly behind Germans, who spent $84 billion last year ($78 billion in 2010) and Americans, who spent $79 billion last year ($75 billionin 2010).


1. What London department store is wooing Chinese shoppers?

2. What are they planning?

3. How much do Chinese shoppers spend while traveling?


1. Westfield.

2. A promotional activity for the Chinese festival of romance on Thursday, offering Chinese guests a VIP pass that gives them a discount of up to 25 percent in more than 80 shops and restaurants.

3. 11,000 euros ($13,000) on average on each shopping trip to Europe, Singapore or Hong Kong.

(中国日报网英语点津 Helen 编辑)

UK stores try to get Chinese lovers in the mood

About the broadcaster:

UK stores try to get Chinese lovers in the mood

Nelly Min is an editor at China Daily with more than 10 years of experience as a newspaper editor and photographer. She has worked at major newspapers in the U.S., including the Los Angeles Times and the Detroit Free Press. She is also fluent in Korean.



















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