The 28,000 square feet store will be located at the China World Trade Center mall in Beijing.
As the South China Morning Post reports, the news represents a key investment for the iconic US brand – reportedly America’s oldest toy store – in a market that is forecast to soon eclipse the rest of the world.
The mammoth store will be 40% larger than the brand’s current flagship in New York city’s Rockerfeller Center. FAO Schwarz plans a second store for Shanghai and further 30 smaller, speciality ones in China over the next five years.
“FAO Schwarz is focused on creating a theatrical experience, where there will be many demonstrators to interact with children and parents” in store, said Sherman Hung, CFO of The Kidsland Group, which is China’s largest toy retailer and the FAO Schwarz’s Chinese partner for the project.
“This is part of our exploration into providing new experiences for customers,” he added.
China has long been toymaker for the world and produces products for most of the world’s leading brands, including Mattel, Hasbro, and FAO Schwarz.
Now it is also the largest market for recreational and education products in the world. Toy sales in China are forecast to potentially reach $13.8 billion by 2022.
The huge potential of the market was indicated by Lego’s just-announced revenue figures. While growth in the US and Europe was in single figures, in China it was in double digits, the company said.
Niels Christiansen, CEO of the Danish toy giant, told CGTN the company now plans to double the number of its stores in China. And, aside from physical outlets, the group has teamed with leading Chinese tech company Tencent to launch a creative sandbox game called “Imagination Creates the World”.
Chinese parents value the play as an important element of education, Christiansen said. And Lego, he said, was a perfect fit.
“It is really important for the kids to get equipped with the 21st-century skills of resilience and problem solving, creativity and collaborative skills,” said Christiansen.
Games and puzzles, construction toys and plush toys are the best-selling categories in China's market, industry expert Anne McConnell said.
Sourced from South China Morning Post, CGTN; additional content by WARC staff