MELBOURNE: Australia’s luxury retail industry is growing at more than 10% a year, with two thirds or more of all spending coming from Chinese shoppers.

According to commercial property group CBRE, existing major players which have been expanding their presence and renovating stores have been joined by new entrants in recent months.

“Over the past 12 to 18 months we’ve seen this push towards Australia, a lot of that’s being driven by the success of the stalwarts – Louis Vuitton, Chanel and Prada – who have been here for quite a long time,” Tim Starling, head CBRE’s Australian retail occupier team, told the South China Morning Post.

“The success for these brands has been because about 60% to 80% of the spend in Australia is from Chinese – not just tourists, but Australian-based and Australian-born Chinese as well,” he added..

“I think those groups, particularly the LVMH Group, have cottoned on very quickly and have brought out Celine and Givenchy. All of those brands are now up and running.”

Melbourne’s upmarket Chadstone Shopping Centre offers one example of how Australian luxury retailers are responding to the growing presence of Chinese consumers, with Mandarin-speaking concierge and in-store customer service staff on hand to assist them.

The centre also employs a tourism manager who estimates that visits from Chinese tourists doubled in 2017 and who plans to build on that with the opening of a tourism lounge this year and a 250-room hotel in 2019.

An alternative approach has been observed in Sydney, where, according to Jennifer Spark of digital marketing agency Ready Set Go China, luxury brands are “grooming” wealthy Chinese consumers who can influence friends’ shopping behaviours.

Spark cited the example of one “super influential” woman who has worked with leading brands like Hermès to put together events with her girlfriends.

“She doesn’t get paid, she doesn’t need the money, but they work with brands and work like a micro-influencer,” she said.

While the immediate outlook is bright, Starling added a note of caution when he observed that “a lot of niche brands aren’t here yet.

“I think it will be two or three years before the niche brands come in and the market just isn’t big enough for all of them.”

Sourced from South China Morning Post; additional content by WARC staff