UK fashion brand Karen Millen has started its expansion into the Chinese marketplace with the opening of its first flagship store located at Parkview Green in Beijing's Chaoyang District. Part of the retailer’s international growth strategy, the luxury high street store is pitching itself as a “bridge” brand, sitting itself between high street and luxury, a sector the retailer says is “largely untapped” and will see it competing against fellow British retailer Reiss, as well as American brands such as DKNY and Michael Kors.
The Beijing flagship marks the first step in Karen Millen’s strategy to become the leading multi-channel, affordable brand in China, along with the news of the first flagship, the brand announced long-term plans to open a further 60 stores across the country through a combination of wholly-owned stores and franchises over the next five years.
Following Beijing will be a second flagship store in Shanghai, which is due to open in the spring, as well as a local language transactional website.
Since 2009, Karen Millen’s store count has doubled in the Far East, however plans to expand into China were delayed due to the brand needing to buy back the rights to use its name in China, after they were bought by an unnamed Chinese investor along with other major brands from the UK.
Gemma Metheringham, Managing Director of Karen Millen, said: “The launch of our Beijing store marks the start of an exciting new chapter in Karen Millen’s phenomenal international growth story.
“Asia is fast becoming the most important market in the world for luxury and designer fashion. We’re a leader in our existing markets in design-led luxury at affordable prices and we’re delighted to give Chinese women access to the brand for the first time.”
By the end of the year, the retailer will have over 20 stores open in the region, including Thailand, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Vietnam and Singapore. Due to the success of the region the retailer is also considering further expansion into these countries as well as elsewhere in the region.
Since its launch in 1981, Karen Millen has grown to over 350 stores and concessions in over 50 countries, and the Chinese store joins the retailer’s other flagships in London, New York, Moscow, Dubai, Barcelona, Los Angeles, Dusseldorf, St Petersburg and Paris.