Alfred Dunhill, the London’s high-end menswear retailer, worked furiously to secure China as its most profitable market. Christopher Colfer, the brand’s CEO, says China brings in around 30 percent of its total revenue and that customers are becoming more discerning and the Chinese marketplace is shifting.
Colfer says that, unlike twenty years ago when Chinese consumers had a predilection for iconic logos and big brand names, quality speaks louder than insignia. “It is a highly intelligent customer base, very knowledgeable in your product, and they really understand quality and they understand how things are constructed and made, and they buy into the providence of that,” he says.
He also believes the market has changed on a cost basis, as well as from an operations point of view, citing how a brand must be localized in different tax districts and new importation procedures. While China used to be an inexpensive but difficult market to enter, the market is now much easier to break into, but also much more expensive.
“I see China daily, every single morning when I wake up,” Colfer says. “I think there are elements of the economy that obviously are struggling, and it’s slowing down, but I don’t see it.”
However, prudence dictates that it may be smart to diversify. The U.S. will be the focus. The label has plans to open its second store in the United States this summer in Las Vegas, and to open three more stores in the U.S. over the course of the next year. He says, “We, in the last six years, have focused where the fish are for us, and that was predominately in Asia, that’s what we went out to focus on. We now have the need to focus on the west, and that is the U.S.”
photo credit: dunhill