British watchmaker Bremont has become the latest international watch company to step into the Chinese market.
Bremont’s founders, Nick and Giles English, opened 2000-square-foot outlet in Central Hong Kong three months ago, hoping for a “stepping stone” to the mainland luxury market.
“Many mainland people come to Hong Kong and shop, and we make sure they go home and know Bremont. It is silly to miss China, a market so important that one has to do it correctly,” Giles English told the South China Morning Post.
The brand got a taste of Chinese spending power at its new Hong Kong store, noting that “a single Chinese customer walked out with five Bremont watches in a HK$130,000 shopping spree, something unseen even in the flagship store in London.”
Chinese consumers are not strangers to international luxury watch brands, but the market is dominated by Swiss companies, such as Breitling and Rolex. But Bremont, a brand with which chronometer collectors and those involved in aviation and the military are most familiar, is something new, and will have to find its own demographic within the luxury market.
However, according to Bank of America Merrill Lynch chief economist Lu Ting, things might be looking up for Bremont. Lu said that retail sales of watches on the mainland may be greater in the first few months of this year than they were at the same time last year. In 2012, retail sales dwindled from 14.3 percent to 13.1 percent as a result of the government’s crackdown on official spending on luxury goods and services. Now, China encourages domestic consumption, and as the country moves away from an export-based economy, it is becoming “a battleground for overseas consumer brands.”
In any case, English’s primary concern for his company is production, which will rise by a third to around 8,000 watch pieces this year.
“It takes two years to make a watch, and raising production capacity can’t happen over night because different components have different cycles and it takes time to train engineers and technicians,” he said.
image credit: bremont