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What pitfalls should Topshop avoid if it is to succeed in China?

This week Topshop launched its first store in China, a market, which could provide the opportunity for huge growth if the retailer targets it appropriately.

Its partnership with Lane Crawford is a sure winner for the womenswear retailer. With the knowledge of the luxury Asian department store the Arcadia chain will have an abundance of local information, from what consumers like to wear to which shopping centres have the best rents.

Teaming up with a local partner, whether it’s through a franchise model or a joint partnership like this one, is integral to getting in depth, on the ground knowledge and one that retailers and brands looking to enter any territory should strongly consider.

Choosing the right location is also key. Topshop has opted for a prime shopping street, which already houses stores from Zara, H&M and Marks & Spencer. Topshop should sit well with the mix and benefit from the footfall with Chinese shoppers already visiting the area to shop in other Western retailers.

Not all Western retailers succeed in China however and at the beginning of the year it was reported that M&S was missing its internal targets by up to 30%. It seems much of the retailer’s problems stemmed from its failure to adapt the product offering or marketing for the Asian market, resulting in it becoming more a destination for nostalgic expats rather than a billion new customers.

This is something, however, that Topshop seems to have taken into account. Managing director Mary Homer told Drapers the Hong Kong store will have a slant towards petite sizes.

Topshop also dipped its toes in the water by launching online first, meaning it already has a Chinese shopper base on which it can build. It has gleaned data from this that will inform which styles, sizes and colours to focus on for the new audience.

The retailer is no slouch when it comes to international expansion, and is already in more than 30 countries. Through that it has found that 75% of bestsellers are bestsellers across the globe. Chinese shoppers are known to be big fans of the English style and fast fashion and so Topshop’s product offering is bound to be lusted after.


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