With the opening of its biggest Asian flagship store in Beijing, as well as double-digit year-on-year growth in 2013, Max Mara’s CEO sees no reason to change its expansion strategy in China.
The Italian luxury fashion house, founded in 1951 by Achille Maramotti, has opened 320 stores in mainland China in the fourteen years since entering the Chinese market. Its first store opened through a local distributor in Beijing’s China World Mall in 1999. In 2009, Max Mara created a joint venture with GBMax limited to further its expansion in China, and currently plans to add 25 to 35 stores per year in the country. Many of these stores are in China’s second and third-tier cities.
Because Max Mara is privately held, it doesn’t need to deliver growth every quarter to appease investors. Instead, it can be patient. The company’s approach to China is to respect creativity and to invest accordingly. “We decide to launch new projects or new lines of business when we think we are ready. We do it in a way that we are capable of developing it in the long run,” Max Mara CEO Luigi Maramotti said. “We have to fight to leave room for creativity,” he added. “The business side should not be the only driver.”
Part of this growth strategy is increasing the turnover at each of its stores in China. To accomplish this, an emphasis has been placed on opening bigger, higher profile stores over the last three to four years. The recently opened Beijing flagship is inline with this strategy with its attention-grabbing illuminated facade and its 800 square meters of retail space.
While Max Mara doesn’t plan to depart much from its traditionally lower profile way of doing business – relying more on its fashion to make a statement rather than putting forth attention grabbing headlines in the press – the brand is attuned to the marketplace and has implemented strategies, which are similar to other luxury brands, to attract Chinese luxury consumers.
In addition to educating Chinese customers about the brand’s history with a special exhibit designed by Migliore+Servetto Architects, the company also introduced a line of limited edition, China-exclusive handbags and sneakers to commemorate the opening of the store. The Beijing flagship has devoted the third floor to its VIP customers.
With its success in winning over Chinese customers and its commitment to growth, Max Mara has created a road map for sustainable success in the Chinese market.
image credit: max mara