Saturday, May 25, 2024

CHINA NEWS BRIEF: 20 March 2024

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China saw a reversal in its nine-year decline in marriage registrations last year, with 7.68 million newlywed couples, an increase of 845,000 from 2022, attributed partly to delays caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. The wedding industry rebounded notably during the 2023 Mid-Autumn Festival and National Day holidays, though overall spending on wedding banquets decreased by 10% to 15% YoY. Despite incentives for larger families, marriage rates had been declining since 2013 due to high costs, gender imbalance, and shifting attitudes among young people.

Loewe is gearing up to showcase its first major exhibition in Shanghai, celebrating its 178 years of history and its dedication to craftsmanship. Titled “Crafted World” and curated by creative director Jonathan Anderson, the exhibition will be open to the public free of charge from Friday this week to May 5 at the Shanghai Exhibition Center, featuring guided tours for students on April 23.

Mainland Chinese buyers are rushing to purchase homes in Hong Kong, comprising up to 30% of new property sales just weeks after the city eliminated all additional stamp duties on foreign buyers, following a period of sluggish activity due to the pandemic. This influx, reported by various property agents and developers, coincides with a downturn in confidence in the mainland’s housing market due to economic uncertainty and a debt crisis.

Hublot announced on Monday this week that internationally renowned architect, Ma Yansong, has become the brand’s “close friend.” In the future, Ma will interpret Hublot’s brand philosophy in his own style, and create works that align with this concept. As the first Chinese architect to win overseas landmark design projects, Ma’s architecture is characterized by organic and fluid forms, adopting a neutral appearance to integrate buildings with their surroundings and natural landscapes, thus challenging traditional architectural rules.

Apple has announced that the eighth Apple Store in Shanghai, Apple Jing’an Retail Store, will open at 7pm tomorrow. Located near Jing’an Temple and Jing’an Park, the new store is surrounded by a plaza, providing a venue for community events and offering customers a unique shopping experience to explore Apple’s products and services.

In an unscheduled trading update, Kering forecasted a likely 10% decline in first-quarter revenues on a comparable basis, primarily attributed to sluggish sales at its flagship brand, Gucci, which constitutes over half of Kering’s revenues. Gucci’s comparable revenues are anticipated to drop by 20 percent YoY, especially affected by underperformance in the Asia-Pacific region. Despite efforts to revamp its image under a new leadership team, including creative director Sabato De Sarno and CEO Jean-François Palus, Gucci’s sales continued to slide, compounded by delays in introducing new collections. The wider luxury market’s downturn, particularly in China, where demand has been slower to recover than expected, has also contributed to Kering’s challenges.

Kering Group is restructuring its board of directors after three members resigned. The company is proposing the appointment of three new independent directors: Rachel Duan (Duan Xiaoying), former Senior Vice President of General Electric (GE), Giovanna Melandri, former Minister of Culture of Italy, and Dominique d’Hinnin, Chairman of the European Communication Satellite Company. The board will be put to a vote at the annual shareholders’ meeting on April 25.

Dries Van Noten, aged 65, is stepping down as creative director of his eponymous fashion label this summer, following the upcoming Paris fashion week menswear show in June. Although details about his successor remain pending, Van Noten said that his studio team would oversee the next womenswear collection. Despite selling a majority stake in his label to the Spanish conglomerate Puig in 2018, Van Noten retained his position as chair of the board and creative director until his imminent departure.

Inditex reported a record $39.49 billion (€35.9 billion) in annual sales for 2023, marking a 10% YoY increase with growth across all regions and brands. Notable boosts include a 16.9% rise in Asia and the Rest of the World, and significant growth in Spain and the Americas. Zara led the revenue surge, followed by other brands like Pull&Bear and Bershka. Net income soared 30% to $5.94 billion (€5.4 billion). Despite this success, Inditex focused on reducing its physical footprint, particularly in China, while emphasizing online sales.

Italian eyewear group Safilo recently released its 2023 performance financial report, indicating a 4.8% YoY decrease in sales to approximately $1.13 billion (€1.02 billion), with adjusted net profit plummeting 76% to approximately $15.6 million (€14 million). Regionally, sales in the North American market decreased by 6.4% to approximately $498.3 million (€453 million) calculated at a fixed exchange rate, European market sales dropped 0.6% to approximately $453.98 million (€411.8 million), sales in the Asia-Pacific market increased by 9.1% to approximately $65.89 million (€59.9 million), and sales in other markets rose by 3.9% to approximately $111.1 million (€101 million).

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