While rivals such as Louis Vuiton and Gucci are retreating from further expansion to maintain exclusivity, French luxury handbag brand Longchamp plans to up its presence in China.
“The brand is starting to be increasingly appreciated by the Chinese, both at home and abroad,” Jean Cassegrain, chief executive of the privately-owned group, told Reuters.
Longchamp entered China in 2006 and currently has 20 stores. In 2013, it closed two stores but opened six in the country.
The company has not revealed the number of stores it will open in China, but Cassegrain said that “finding the best spots was difficult because new malls were constantly being built, sometimes rendering obsolete those that opened just three or four years ago.”
Cassegrain is bullish on China and does not believe that the recent crackdown on gift-giving by officials impacts clothing and handbags as much as watches and spirits.
Furthermore, Longchamp’s handbags, with its best-selling Pliage bag starting at under 100 euros (US$138) and leather handbags starting at 370 euros (US$510), are considered affordable luxury, which is one of the fastest-growing segment in China’s luxury market as more Chinese enter the middle class. Its main competitors are brands such as Italian leather goods maker Furla and France’s Lancel.
Chinese buyers, including Hong Kong and Taiwan, had become Longchamp’s second most important customers after the French. Its China, Taiwan and Hong Kong sales rose 26 percent last year.
Founded in 1948, Longchamp is one of the last remaining independent family-owned French leather goods makers with a global presence and is known for its logo of a jockey on a race horse.
image credit: longchamp