This week in the news, Bentley offers bespoke SUVs to Chinese customers, Costa Cruises will complete the first all-Chinese around-the-world cruise, Chinese luxury spending is soaring in Europe, Inditex’s Pull&Bear opens a new Shanghai store, and retail is changing in China’s second and third-tier cities.
British luxury automotive company Bentley will offer its bespoke service to Chinese customers for its new SUV, the Bentley Bentayga. The company will upgrade its showrooms to include Bentley Studios, which will begin taking custom orders for the Bentayga model later this year with the first vehicles being delivered in 2016. On Monday, the company debuted for the Chinese market the EXP 10 Speed 6 model, a plug-in hybrid car, at Auto Shanghai 2015. The car was first unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show in March. Many of the concept car’s elements, including the laser-printed, 3D-curved design of the metallic elements of the interior, will be used in the new Flying Spur, Mulsanne, GT, and SUV models.
Costa Atlantica’s global voyage will be the first around-the-world cruise with solely Chinese guests once the trip is completed late in May. Costa Cruises, which is owned by Carnival Corporation and entered the Chinese market in 2006, was the first cruise company to offer home-port cruises in China. A $20.4 million renovation was undertaken on the ship in January 2015 to prepare it for the voyage. Duty-free shops were expanded and upgraded to house luxury brands, and the public areas and cabins were renovated. The 86-day journey, which began on March 1st in Shanghai, docked in New York City on April 14th for a three-day stay, marking the first time a cruise with all-Chinese guests has visited the United States.
Chinese tourists spent record amounts on luxury items last month due to low prices in Europe caused by the weakening Euro, according to figures from VAT refund company Global Blue. Luxury spending by Chinese tourists rose 122 percent in March after increasing 52 percent in February. Overall, luxury spending by Chinese rose 67 percent during the first quarter, a huge gain compared to the 32 percent spending increase in the fourth quarter of 2014 and an 18 percent overall gain in 2014. Worldwide tourism spending increased overall in March, reaching its highest point since May 2011. Watches and jewelry performed the best, as sales climbed 67 percent in March after a 32 percent gain in February.
Fashion brand Pull&Bear, which is owned by Inditex, opened its fourth Shanghai store last week. The store showcases a new image for the brand, one with a California vibe. Located on the popular shopping street, East Nanjing Road, the 700 square meter space store is spread over two floors with interiors of concrete and pinewood. Rather than using traditional display windows, the store’s facade features visual projections that invite shoppers to come into the shop and discover. One floor is devoted entirely to womenswear while the upper level houses menswear. China is the brands third largest market in terms of store count, behind Spain and Russia. Pull&Bear has 63 point of sales throughout China’s major cities.
As China’s middle class continues to grow at an unprecedented rate, its cities and retail sector have been changing rapidly. But what can we expect from these areas in the next few years? JLL.com has been monitoring the “China60,” or a group of 60 secondary and tertiary cities, to discover trends in today’s commercial real estate market. China’s major cities, Beijing and Shanghai, “have established and maintained considerable ‘distance’ from the China60,” and their global connections and assets rank them among the world’s top ten city economies. But the economic influence of lower-tier cities is on the rise. Since 2012, cities in the western and central regions of China have generally displayed the greatest development.
image credit: peiyu liu