Tiffany plans more China stores as tourist spending falls

Hong Kong

TIFFANY & CO is planning to open more stores in mainland China as the weak yuan drives Chinese consumers away from spending overseas and they shift their luxury buying back home.

Currency fluctuations has had “an influence on the intention of Chinese to buy abroad”, CEO Alessandro Bogliolo said in an interview in Shanghai on Thursday. “Conversely, we have seen a big increase in sales in mainland China.”

The luxury jeweller plans to open more stores on the mainland, Mr Bogliolo said, including one in the Beijing airport in a few weeks. It plans to make its Shanghai flagship store and its most important outlet worldwide after its iconic New York City location, he said. Tiffany also has a store in Hong Kong, where business has been disrupted by ongoing street protests.

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Sectors ranging from tourism to luxury goods that relied heavily on Chinese spending abroad are slumping as the yuan depreciates and the ongoing US-China trade war weighs on consumer confidence. From quieter beaches in South-east Asia to shorter lines at luxury goods stores in Paris and New York, the pullback in Chinese overseas spending is being felt across the world and companies are having to find other ways to court the world’s biggest pool of consumers.

Tiffany’s US sales to international travellers fell by more than 25 per cent in the first quarter, even before China’s tourism ministry issued a travel warning dissuading citizens from visiting the US in June.

To keep prices competitive, the company will also absorb tariffs on its jewellery manufactured in the US and exported to China, rather than pass the increases on to customers, Mr Bogliogo said.

“There is for sure pressure on margin, but consider that it’s only a percentage of our sales,” he said, adding that the company will find internal measures to mitigate the cost increase. BLOOMBERG

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