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Retailer battle for Beijing shoppers hots up
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Beijing's fast-growing shopping malls are trying to lure the city's increasingly affluent consumers with unique brands and atmosphere, according to a study by Worth Global Style Network (WGSN).


The British fashion information and consultation provider recently looked at developments at three major shopping malls in Beijing, each with a distinct retail mix and positioning.


Billed as the world's biggest shopping mall, Golden Resources New Yansha Mall has become a hotbed of local youth and mid-market retail brands despite its inconvenient location on the west Fourth Ring road, WGSN's report said.


The mass-market mall has recently dedicated more space to brands targeting consumers in the 25 to 35 age range.


Since opening in 2004, the mall has been home to over 1,000 brands, ranging from kidswear to products for the elderly. It has seen many companies come and go over the years.


"The retail market in Beijing has been changing so fast that some brands only survive in our mall for a year or so. It is not rare to see new faces here," an anonymous mall official told WGSN.


Housing over 180 international and regional labels, China World Shopping Mall positions itself as Beijing's most luxurious shopping destination, with brands like Prada, Hermes, Tod's, Chloe, Dior, Louis Vuitton and Marc Jacobs.


According to Hazel Wong, the mall's deputy director, the latest arrivals include DKNY, Sonia Rykiel, Kate Spade and See by Chloe, all set to launch by the end of the year.


"You will see less new brands in our existing mall this year as we have been focusing on marketing and liaising for the launch of the China World phase three next June," Wong said.


The new extension, which will initially house 80 stores, will have a slightly different retail focus. "We'll continue in the luxury-to-affordable-luxury direction, but the emphasis is more about lifestyle and entertainment. There will be a new cinema and more dining options," Wong said.


Currently, the glossy mall is home to many upper-mid designer and international brands, such as Marni, Sergio Rossi, Massimo Rebecchi, Vivienne Tam, Max Studio, Kent & Curwen and Tommy Hilfiger.


Specialty shops are another highlight, including Italian golfwear brand Henry Cotton's, British shirting expert Thomas Pink and Italian womenswear store Pinko.


An increasing number of jewelry and accessories brands are appearing at the mall, including Swarovski, Pilgrim, British men's jewelry label FredBennett, Austri's Frey Wille and Germany's Konplott.


Hong Kong brands and retailers are also well presented, including IT and Azona. Domestic highlights include Adekan, M Tsubomi, La Pargay and Exception for women.


The WGSN report said a surge of homeware and lifestyle shops have sprung up at the mall over the last 12 months, including Alessi from Italy and PIV Style, which sells Hong Kong-designed accessories.


Focusing on a "food plus shopping" concept, the new Ginza Mall boasts a list of exclusive brands and restaurants.


"Most local malls are positioned as all-in-one destinations without uniqueness. Many of our shoppers describe us as new and creative as they can feel the environment is more lively and young in terms of interior design, lighting and the 3D shop front," said Ginza Mall Business Manager Sally Kwong.


Newly opened shops include Ole Supermarket, which is developed by China Resources' Vanguard grocery store, Gavin Hair Studio, European bear toy shop Le Vinne and Hong Kong womenswear label Veeko.


(China Daily October 12, 2007)


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