British top-end jewellers move into Chinese market

Fri Dec 9, 2011 11:33am GMT

* Entering a growing market as western demand falls

* British heritage, royal connection appeal to Chinese

* Must compete with local, long-established foreign brands

By Clare Kane

LONDON, Dec 9 (Reuters) - Britain's luxury jewellers are opening outlets in China, where demand for jewellery is set to grow while appetite wanes in western markets.

Royal jeweller Garrard became the latest in a string of British brands to open an outlet in the Lane Crawford department store in Hong Kong last month, where brands usually test the waters for Chinese demand.

The British Jewellers' Association (BJA) held a showcase in Beijing also last month organised by designer Fei Liu and attended by Chinese actress Liu Shishi.

"The endgame is China," Boodles Managing Director Michael Wainwright told Reuters. The upmarket British jeweller, founded in 1798, opened an outlet in Lane Crawford in August and plans to expand into the mainland along with an expansion of the department store.

"What appeals to us is what appeals to everyone else about the place -- their appetite for luxury goods and their existing wealth and their likely wealth in the coming five, 10 years," Wainwright said.   Continued...

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