LONDON – Harrods is committed to China like no other UK retailer.
After two successful in-person events during the pandemic in Shanghai, which involved its chief executive Michael Ward going through a four-week double quarantine with the team, Harrods on Friday unveiled a pop-up at its Knightsbridge store celebrating Chinese fashion design .
Open until mid-December, the space features playful puffer jackets by Chen Peng, the first Yu Prize winner, of which Harrods is a strategic partner, as well as pieces by Shushu/Tong, Ruohan and WMWM, supplied by the Shanghai New York-based fashion boutique and emerging designer support platform Labelhood.
Poppy Lomax, buying manager for womenswear at Harrods, said the huge increase in creative output from China’s luxury industry in recent years was “really exciting to watch”.
“I’m thrilled that we have the opportunity to bring our customers must-have pieces from some of the most exciting designers on the market right now. Our local and international customers are always keen to hear more about young brands from industry and trust us to bring them the best,” she added.
Hit hard by COVID-19 and Brexit, Harrods saw its sales and profits plunge in the 2020-21 financial year.
According to figures published this week on Companies House, the retailer suffered a loss of £57.3million in the 52 weeks to January 30, 2021. This compares to a profit of £191.4million the year former. Turnover fell more than 50% to £429.5m and the gross value of transactions (including value added tax) in the period fell 50.1% to 1, 1 billion pounds.
Faced with the challenge, the UK retailer has taken a proactive approach to engaging with affluent Chinese consumers who cannot travel to London due to strict Chinese border controls.
Harrods has revealed that it has significantly increased its presence in China over the past year, starting with the opening of The Residence Shanghai, its first dedicated private shopping space for its Chinese customers, in October 2020. The concept has been extended in Beijing in June.
Last month during Shanghai Fashion Week, the retailer held a three-day incubation program called The Harrods Hive. It included networking events and panel discussions with industry leaders, such as Kering, Labelhood, Tx Huaihai and Xiaohongshu, which allowed people from various industry disciplines to join forces.
In a previous interview with WWD, Ward said, “There has never been a more exciting time for the Chinese luxury industry.…From taking this concept to Shanghai Fashion Week, to making it an aspect more permanent of our growing presence in China, our goal is to foster greater cooperation between the greatest talents in our industry and to strengthen support for the luxury brands of tomorrow.
This month, the company is due to open its first Harrods concept tearooms in Shanghai, a space designed to bring traditional British afternoon tea from Harrods to Shanghai in a contemporary environment.
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