A store exclusively showcasing British premium brands and modelled on a London townhouse will launch in Beijing in December.
The British House
The British House, located off Tiananmen Square, will launch with 100 premium UK brands across, fashion, homeware and lifestyle. Around 40 brands have already signed up, including Turnbull & Asser, Liberty, Aspinal of London, Johnstons of Elgin, Sunuva and Rachel Riley.
The 13,000 sq ft store is spread across two floors andis styled like a home, with product displayed in each room. Shoppers can scan the items they like and buy them online using tablets. The products will then be shipped directly from the UK to their home within eight to 11 days.
A tearoom, which will be run by a yet-to-be-named partner, will be located on the first floor to encourage dwell time. The house will also run English language lessons and host VIP parties.
Jamie Powell, former interim managing director at Jonathan Saunders, has been recruited as UK managing director for the business, which he says will be rolled out to further locations.
“We are recruiting brands as we go and we plan on rolling the concept out across China and Asia. It is a whole new retail experience for the area,” he said.
The owner of the project is Yimei McCabe, who is a former diplomat of the ministry of foreign affairs in China.
Powell said McCabe launched The British House to tap into the growing demand for UK brands in China and their “desire to learn more about the British culture and language”.
The concept of a “showroom”, where shoppers pick the products they like and buy them online, is used in some parts of China for food shopping.
Powell said: “It’s not a foreign concept for them. It’s mainly on commodity products like food that many of them shop in this way. You scan as you go then it is delivered to you. You don’t have to carry heavy bags – it’s all about delivering a great consumer experience.”
The weakened value of sterling following the vote to leave the European Union in June has also made UK brands more appealing to Chinese shoppers, as prices are now 15% or 20% lower than they were previously.