Pi­aget show­cases ex­trav­a­gant col­lec­tion on the Bund

China Daily (Canada) - - SHANGHAI - By XU JUNQIAN in Shang­hai

xu­jun­qian@chi­nadaily.com. cn

The cen­tury-old Wai Tan Yuan area in Shang­hai has through­out his­tory hosted many ex­hi­bi­tions fea­tur­ing pre­cious watches and jew­elry, but the lat­est one on April 15 by Swiss lux­ury watch­maker and jeweler Pi­aget may just take the cake.

Held in the for­mer Bri­tish Con­sulate Gen­eral, the exquisite col­lec­tion com­prises 79 pieces of jew­elry and 28 watches. While the 142-year-old com­pany, now owned by lux­ury con­glom­er­ate Richemont, de­clined to re­veal the com­bined value of the pre­cious stones on show, the ex­hi­bi­tion guide at the site did men­tion that the top three pieces each had a start­ing price of 8 mil­lion yuan ($1.24 mil­lion).

“We are very happy to sell our prod­ucts to Chi­nese peo­ple dur­ing their trav­els, but we also want to show and dis­trib­ute the prod­ucts in China,” said Philippe Léopold-Met­zger, CEO of Pi­aget SA, when asked about the de­ci­sion to hold the ex­hi­bi­tion in Shang­hai.

The one-day ex­hi­bi­tion, which was con­cluded with a gala din­ner, was exclusive to a hand­ful of the brand’s VIPs, char­ac­ter­ized by Met­zger as “pro­fes­sional shop­pers” and much younger than their over­seas peers.

The av­er­age age of cus­tomers who can af­ford the brand’s of­fer­ings in China is 35. In con­trast, such cus­tomers are aged be­tween 40 to 50 in Europe. More­over, Chi­nese cus­tomers aged be­tween 25 and 30 have also dis­played a keen in­ter­est in buy­ing what the brand cat­e­go­rizes as “ac­ces­si­ble jew­el­ries” that are priced around 20,000 yuan.

Con­sul­tancy firm Bain & Com­pany es­ti­mated in its lat­est re­port that de­spite the over­all China lux­ury mar­ket de­clin­ing by 2 per­cent to 113 bil­lion yuan in 2015, the jew­elry seg­ment, on the con­trary, ex­pe­ri­enced a 7 per­cent jump year-on-year. How­ever, only 30 per­cent of lux­ury goods spend­ing was made within the shop­ping malls and bou­tique stores in the Chi­nese main­land.

Pi­aget, which first started as a watch man­u­fac­turer and did not have a reg­is­tered trade­mark un­til 1943, has not re­vealed its sales fig­ures. Met­zger did how­ever ad­mit that the year of 2015 was one of con­sol­i­da­tion.

“We are op­ti­mistic and will con­tinue to open stores. We are look­ing at things from a long-term per­spec­tive and be­lieve the mar­ket in China will con­tinue to grow,” said Met­zger.

Since en­ter­ing China in 2002, the com­pany now has 45 points of sales, 25 of which are in­de­pen­dent bou­tique stores. It plans to open an­other five bou­tique stores within the next three to five years.

“There has been a ques­tion in the lux­ury sec­tor about whether a brand can have too many stores. But I think stores and dis­tri­bu­tion are part of the brand ed­u­ca­tion,” said Met­zger.

TO CHINA DAILY PRO­VIDED

Chi­nese ac­tress Gong Li was in at­ten­dance at the Pi­aget ex­hi­bi­tion in Shang­hai.

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