Daily Archives: September 21, 2009

China Now World’s Fastest-Growing Diamond Market

Country Should Overtake Japan As Second Largest Diamond Market By Sales Volume Within The Year

Diamonds are a "must have" for China's growing luxury consumer class

Diamonds are a "must have" for China's growing luxury consumer class

Falling demand for luxury products of all shades has vaulted China to the top of many lists this year, as demand in developed markets has fallen for everything from luxury cars to five-star hotels. With China’s massive population and growing middle class, even gradual growth in demand can mean a great deal for luxury brands, so diamond producers can continue to be optimistic about the potential for their products in China — soon to be the world’s second largest diamond market by sales, if the projections of Freddy Hanard, chief executive officer of the Antwerp World Diamond Centre, are correct.

As the Financial Times writes today, Hanard predicts that diamond sales in China should continue the double-digit growth they saw in the first half of the year to continue throughout the second, and says that sales could possibly double in 2010. As the thirst for luxury products continues to spread in China’s second- and third-tier cities, and wealthier Chinese maintain their desire to diversify luxury and high-value holdings — something that we have seen in recent years as they’ve increasingly purchased luxury cars, gold, rare watches and jewelry, fine wine, contemporary art from China and elsewhere, and real estate — diamonds will probably remain strongly in demand according to all indications.

“China is the world’s fastest growing diamond market. And it can go very fast. It is still discovering diamonds,” said Mr Hanard.

Continue reading

Wynn To Seek $1.6 Billion In Hong Kong IPO: WSJ

IPO Follows Record Revenue In Macau Last Month And Indications That Beijing Will Loosen Visa Restrictions F0r Mainland Chinese

Macau, the "Vegas of the East," is bouncing back to life after a tough year

Macau, the "Vegas of the East," is bouncing back to life after a tough year

The Wall Street Journal reports today that Las Vegas-based casino operator Wynn Resorts is looking for as much as US$1.6 billion (HK$ 12.6 billion) “based on pricing set over the weekend for a Hong Kong listing of the company’s Macau assets next month.” This IPO could precede others by foreign casinos in Macau, as the article notes that Wynn competitor Sheldon Adelson may also be eyeing a Hong Kong listing for his company as it emerges from the global economic downturn — which put a sizeable dent in several construction projects that had been slated for the Venetian Macau last year.

The relatively quick rebound of the Chinese tourist (or, even more likely, Cantonese gambling enthusiasts from Hong Kong, Shenzhen and elsewhere in Guangdong province) has injected a much-needed dose of optimism among major companies in Macau, which depend greatly on the continued spending and investment of mainland Chinese visitors and companies as well as the capital and expertise of foreign casino operators like Wynn to keep the former Portuguese colony’s growing economy running smoothly.

Over the weekend, Wynn and its bankers set a price range of between HK$8.52 and HK$10.08 per share for the IPO, the person said. The company is offering 1.25 billion shares, equivalent to 25% of the equity of Wynn’s Macau operations, the person added. The company had earlier been expected to raise about US$1 billion in its offering.

Continue reading

Fashion: From “Made In China” To “Owned By China”

Acquisition Of High-Profile Western Brands By Chinese Companies Gives Chinese Designers And Brands Broader Distribution Base

Pierre Cardin has become one of the most recognizable and coveted foreign brands in China since entering the market in 1978. Photo (c) CRI English

Pierre Cardin was recently acquired by a Chinese fashion company, boosting the popular brand's reach in the China market. Photo (c) CRI English

In the wake of the global economic crisis, several Chinese companies have gone on global shopping sprees, spurred by the one-two punch of a drop in luxury consumption in developed markets and a motivation to control the sale of high-profit luxury goods inside the Chinese mainland. Although China, as the world’s most populous nation, has a massive consumer base, much of that base remains far below the income level of regular luxury consumers, meaning domestic companies often experience a difficult conundrum — if they want to tap into the wallets of China’s 1.3 billion consumers, they generally have only two real choices — toss brand equity aside and focus on the lowest-price-point consumer or bring a foreign brand with much higher brand equity to China and target the emerging middle class and wealthy consumers. As a result, the transition from local to global (or maybe more accurately, glocal), seems natural. In the capitalism-on-speed world of China’s major metropolitan areas, either you go global or you’re crushed by your competitors.

This week, the subject of Chinese companies purchasing established western fashion brands was raised in a Reuters article (via Canada’s Financial Post), which focused on the delicate balance some major Chinese companies are dealing with at the moment — whether to try to purchase distressed foreign brands to sell in the brands’ existing established markets or simply to buy the brands then control them as they please within the Chinese market. There is no guarantee that consumers in developed markets will bounce back from the recession to spend as freely on luxury goods and haute couture as they once did, but at the same time the majority of Chinese consumers are not in the market for these goods. Additionally, Chinese fashion companies may not yet have the management experience necessary to oversee a western brand (or its employees) in its usual markets, so time will probably be necessary for Chinese companies to work out the kinks that would emerge down the road if they were to focus too strongly on overseas markets.

According to some sources — such as the exporter interviewed in the Reuters article — Chinese companies shopping for western fashion brands would be better off counting on the continued growth of the Chinese middle class, as this area should see sustained growth that may outpace the rebound of the consumer in developed countries.

After decades of Made-in-China garments, China’s fashion industry is keen to move on from being just a mass manufacturer of clothes. It now wants to own western brands and to sell them to China’s 1.3 billion consumers.

The right to sell brands of several international fashion labels locally, such as Aquascutum and Pierre Cardin, have been recently acquired by Chinese clothes makers and sellers.

Continue reading