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BUSINESS & TECH

Folli Follie To Open 50 New China Stores

By Wang Luyao and Coco Feng
Folli Follie's plan to expand in China comes as more Chinese customers are buying entry-level luxury goods at home rather than abroad. Above, a Folli Follie fashion boutique is seen in Yichang, Hubei province, in August 2015. Photo: IC
Folli Follie's plan to expand in China comes as more Chinese customers are buying entry-level luxury goods at home rather than abroad. Above, a Folli Follie fashion boutique is seen in Yichang, Hubei province, in August 2015. Photo: IC

Greek jewelry- and timepiece-maker Folli Follie plans to open 50 new stores in China next year, showing a renewed faith in a market in which its presence has shrunk in recent years.

Twenty of the locations will be directly operated by the company, five to seven of which will become its flagship stores in major Chinese cities, including Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen, Folli Follie China Director Connie Law told Caixin.

The other 30 shops will run on a franchise model, Law said.

The brand recently launched a necklace that includes depictions of dogs ahead of the Chinese year of the dog, the first time the company has launched such a design and a clear attempt to appeal to Chinese consumers.

Folli Follie became well-known to Chinese fashionistas in 2011 when domestic conglomerate Fosun Group became its second-largest shareholder. The brand had 220 stores in China in 2014, according to a Fosun financial report. This figure has since declined to only 150, Law said.

An industry insider said that the decline was in part caused by some Folli Follie franchisees switching to rivals such as Austria’s Swarovski.

Law told Caixin that Chinese consumers are buying entry-level luxury goods at home rather than abroad as the price gap between China and other countries has narrowed.

As e-commerce continues to rapidly expand in China — online sales grew 32% in the first 11 months of 2017, compared to a 10% increase in total retail spending — Folli Follie has also established stores on online marketplaces, including Alibaba’s Tmall and JD.com.

But 75% of the company’s spending in China goes to its offline stores, Law said, adding that the company will never abandon its brick-and-mortar business.

Contact reporter Coco Feng (renkefeng@caixin.com)

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