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Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Tiffany Looks to China for Growth

Tiffany & Co. Shanghai Store.  Photo: Cal Otero

Luxury retailer jeweler Tiffany & Co. said it will open more stores in China than anywhere else in the world over the next three years.

“China will rapidly become the place where we will have the greatest number of new stores. Within the next three years, the number will stand between 25 and 30,” Michael J. Kowalski, chairman of Tiffany & Co, told China Daily.

The New York-based company plans to open four stores in China during the current fiscal year, which ends January 2011 and will invest more heavily in the country’s second and third tier cities, Kowalski reportedly said.

Expansion in China is being driven by robust sales growth in the market, Kowalski said. In the second quarter of 2010, Tiffany witnessed its fastest growth in China, with a 27 percent increase, year-over-year. He expects sales in the Asia-Pacific region, led by China, to increase by more than 20 percent. He said China will surpass the United States as the largest jewelry market in the world over the next five to 10 years.

The jeweler currently has 12 retail stores and boutiques in China, including three in Beijing, four in Shanghai and one in Chengdu. Its store at the China World Shopping Mall in Beijing opens this month, with another in Kunming opening in December.

To attract as many customers as possible in its fastest-growing market, Tiffany unveiled its 2011 jewels and diamonds collections in Beijing on October 22—the first time the brand has unveiled a major new collection outside the U.S.

“We aim to let Chinese customers become more familiar with the connotation and history of our brand through this activity, which brings Tiffany closer to its Chinese buyers,” Kowalski reportedly said.

In contrast to other luxury brands, whose stores are operated by their Chinese distributors, all of Tiffany's boutiques in China are owned directly by the company, and that will continue to be the case, Kowalski reportedly told the newspaper. Currently, 97 percent of Tiffany stores around the world are operated directly by the company.

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