Top-notch brands make beeline for Shanghai

More first stores, debut shows from global trademarks are order of the day

By WANG YING in Shanghai | China Daily | Updated: 2024-04-16 09:28
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Apple CEO Tim Cook greets customers at the company's newest store in Shanghai in March. GAO ERQIANG/CHINA DAILY

A raft of global brands have opened new outlets in Shanghai or made their first-store debuts here of late, attracted by the strong traction seen in the city's retail space.

This follows increased confidence in the Chinese market from foreign investors, as the nation commits to embracing the world with open arms, according to senior executives, experts and officials.

For years, Shanghai has led Chinese cities in housing the greatest number of first stores at various levels, and the trend picked up pace in March.

Among all the first stores and debuts recently, Apple's newly launched flagship, which directly faces the landmark Jing'an Temple in the heart of the city's Jing'an district, has caught the most attention.

The store, its eighth in Shanghai and 47th on the Chinese mainland, was thrown open on March 21, marking the latest attempt by the US tech giant to ramp up sales in the world's second-largest economy.

Tim Cook, CEO of Apple Inc, showed up on the opening night, greeting long lines of Chinese consumers who had been waiting for hours to be among the first to enter the store.

Apple said the new store is encircled by a plaza that gives the community a gathering place for special events, as well as providing a one-of-a-kind shopping destination where customers can discover and buy the iPhone maker's lineup of products and services.

The same night, merely a few blocks away along the city's landmark high street West Nanjing Road, Loewe unveiled its first public exhibition Crafted World at the Shanghai Exhibition Center.

"This is the very first exhibition presented by the Spanish fashion house throughout its 178-year history," said Andrew Wu, president of China for LVMH Group, which has acquired the brand.

According to Wu, the Chinese market is of great importance, and a growing number of Chinese consumers have become fond of quality products.

"What is equally important is the fact that the Yangtze River Delta region has a group of people who appreciate the quality of life, and Shanghai is one of the international fashion highlands," said Wu.

It took two years to prepare for the exhibition that will run from March 22 through May 5.

"The new Apple flagship store and the Loewe exhibition, in my opinion, represent the eagerness of various brands to cement their positions in China," said Liu Min, deputy director of the Shanghai Municipal Commission of Commerce, adding that three debut shows by international brands were staged along the West Nanjing Road that day.

The third event was by US coffee chain operator Starbucks, which debuted its first batch of Oleato beverages, blending coffee with olive oil for the Chinese market.

Howard Schultz, Starbucks founder and chairman emeritus, was at the launch held at the Starbucks Reserve Shanghai Roastery, where he shared a story about the drink with Chinese customers and partners.

Leveraging a combination of global coffee expertise and local insights, Starbucks has high expectations for the new beverages market in China, according to the company.

Jiang Qingyun, a professor of marketing with the School of Management at Fudan University, said debuts of various stores and activities by globally well-known brands indicate the great growth potential of Shanghai and the Chinese market.

China's economic growth has weathered the effects of global economic headwinds and the COVID-19 pandemic, and the diversity of the Chinese market allows various brands to find sizable target customers in their specific market, Jiang said.

Another firm that has increased its presence in China is New York-based skateboard brand Supreme, which opened its 17th store worldwide and one of the largest to date in Shanghai on March 23. The store is located in one of the most stylish areas in the city, on Fumin Road in Xuhui district.

Having a tradition of launching limited items at a specific store, Supreme launched Supreme Shanghai box logo T-shirts and hoodies on the opening day, which were sold out within two and a half days.

Li Jiahang, a senior middle school student, was desperate to buy the limited edition products, although the shirt was retailing for 525 yuan ($72.5) and the hoodie for 1,750 yuan.

"I have liked Supreme since junior middle school, and with the support of my parents, I will buy something I really like," said Li, who had come all the way from his hometown in Jiaxing, Zhejiang province.

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