Burberry has said that the Asia Pacific region will generate half of the luxury label’s business within three to five years as it celebrated the opening of its flagship store in Beijing.
The British brand, which tomorrow reports its fourth quarter results, operates 60 stores in China and has plans to have 100 in the country in the short term. It bought out its Chinese franchise partners of 20 years for £70m last summer.
Burberry, which is expected to report its underlying sales were knocked slightly by last month’s earthquake in Japan, has kicked off dramatic expansion plans around the world, including plans to reinvest in London ahead of the Olympics with a string of high profile store openings, as revealed by Drapers last month.
It has acquired the Habitat store on Regent Street and the adjacent LK Bennett site. It also opened its Burberry Brit store in Covent Garden last week.
In an interview with the Sunday Telegraph at the Beijing store opening Burberry chief executive Angela Ahrendts, who has said the increase in numbers of Chinese visitors to Britain was a key factor in its London expansion plans, outlined the opportunities for the brand in China itself.
The opening of the 12,500 sq ft store in Beijing’s Sparkle Roll Plaza is the first flagship store to open in the country, which is forecasted to grow its upper-middle class demographic by six times by 2015.
The shop features Burberry’s biggest kidswear department, and is set to take advantage of China’s one-child-per-couple policy.
Ahrendts said: “In China you’ve got six people buying for one child. But the thing is you’ve got the largest rising upper-middle class in the world.”
The shop features the second biggest external LED screens in the world after those at the Yankee Stadium.
Ahrendts said: “Those external screens mean we can throw a party in the parking lot and customers can watch our runway shows live from London. Our sales associates can walk around with iPads so customers can click and buy while they have canapes and cocktails.”
Technology and the creation of a community using social media is a key part of Ahrendts strategy for the brand. Burberry streams its Burberry Prorsum London Fashion Week shows live around the world.
She said: “People talk about the age and positioning of a brand but, hell, it’s not about that. The global language is digital and we need to speak the language.”