The lure of luxury: CDFG partners with leading high-end watchmakers to enhance boutique experience

CHINA. World number one travel retailer China Duty Free Group (CDFG) is implementing an ambitious refurbishment and upgrading programme of its watch boutiques at Sanya International Duty Free Shopping Complex in Haitang Bay to better cater to consumer demands and enhance the shopping experience.

Several of the world’s most illustrious brands have recently made their debut or enhanced their existing presence, CDFG told The Moodie Davitt Report.

Swiss ‘Hyper Horology’ luxury watchmaker Roger Dubuis has upgraded its previous pop-up boutique by opening the brand’s only official store in Hainan province on 17 December. The interior design uses geometric elements as decorations, lending the boutique a futurist appearance.

‘Hyper Horology’ on show as Roger Dubuis and China Duty Free Group build on their strong relationship with this futuristic boutique

The brand slogan on the wall reads ‘No Rules Our Game’, while the store showcases a selection of the latest Excalibur timepieces. This includes two White Ceramic Composite Fiber (CCF) watches exclusively released through CDFG, and one Pirelli Single Flying Tourbillon Watch with a diameter of just 39mm.

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Roger Dubuis has participated in the Watches and Wonders Sanya Fine Watch Exhibition hosted by CDFG over the past two years and opened its pop-up in the Sanya International Duty Free Shopping Complex last June.

“The new exclusive store marks a further step in the partnership between Roger Dubuis and CDFG and will allow more customers to experience a future of ‘Hyper Horology’ with consistent high-quality service,” CDFG commented.

Fellow Swiss high-end houses IWC and Jaeger-LeCoultre are also implementing a total makeover of their stores, while the Gucci watch and jewellery stores have been expanded to introduce new products. All these popular brands are providing more classic pieces and limited collections for customers before the Spring Festival, CDFG said.

The Gucci watch and jewellery boutique opened on 18 December. It features a new design featuring greyish-green leather panelling and optical-patterned carpeting. Each collection is displayed in leather-finished counters and wooden tall cabinets. Jewellery pieces and watches are displayed by cherry red busts, hand mannequins or in peacock green boxes, highlighting the allure and stories behind the products.

A backlit Gucci logo, spotlights and polished glass bathe the pieces in light, creating “a dance of light and shadow that is harmonious and intriguing in its contrasts”, CDFG said.

The store offers a wide variety of the latest Gucci timepiece collections, including Gucci 25H, G-Timeless and Gucci Dive. Gold collections include Gucci Link to Love, Gucci Flora and GG Running, while the silver collections feature GG Marmont and Interlocking G.

“A dance of light and shadow that is harmonious and intriguing in its contrasts”

The grand opening of the new IWC Schaffhausen boutique was hosted on 3 January, 2022. Designed by the current CEO of IWC Christoph Grainger-Herr, the store offers redefined luxury without being “noisy”, CDFG said. It features an interactive window installation that allows customers to gaze in from any direction and see a large, classic pilot watch.

Take me to the pilot: IWC showcases one of its most renowned watch collections in super-size mode

CDFG said that IWC has proven one of the most popular watch brands since making its debut in Haitang Bay. During the Watches and Wonders exhibition in Sanya, the brand introduced many new products to customers.

These included watches with intricate functions such as tourbillon complications and perpetual calendar mechanisms plus porcelain titanium and self-made movement timepieces. The brand also introduced the Airspeeder theme exhibition [IWC has a long-standing partnership with Airspeeder, the world’s first racing series for electric flying cars -Ed].

Watches and Wonders Sanya was a powerful endorsement of China Duty Free Group’s luxury credentials

The exclusive new Jaeger-LeCoultre store made its debut on 5 January. The elegant and refined design of the boutique reflects the DNA and personality of Jaeger-LeCoultre’s grand workshops, allowing customers to explore the refined skills of a watchmaker with over 188 years of history, CDFG said.

Jaeger-LeCoultre: “An unremitting pursuit of exquisite craftsmanship and aesthetic creation”

The Moodie View

This story represents more than the tale of multiple high-end boutique openings.

The real narrative here is China Duty Free Group’s continued rapid evolution as a luxury retailer, credentials it is keen to underline as the Hainan retail market develops apace in the run-up to 2025.

Events such as Watches and Wonders are a vital affirmation of China Duty Free Group’s rising status in the eyes of some of the world’s most illustrious luxury brands. That status is progressively being translated into an impressive roll-call of new or enhanced boutiques in Haitang Bay (and no doubt within the extraordinary Haikou International Duty Free City due to open in September).

That in turn augurs well for the China Tourism Group subsidiary as it seeks to increase the average transaction value in Haitang Bay (along with store penetration and shopper conversion rate one of the key parameters that the group focuses on).

In the July 2020 offshore duty free shopping policy enhancement, the annual Hainan offshore duty free allowance was raised to CNY100,000 (US$15,750).

Crucially, the previous CNY8,000 (US$1,250) cap on a single purchase was removed, ushering in a major growth opportunity for high-end purchases.

However, Goldman Sachs estimates that average annual shopper spending currently ranges between CNY10,000 and 13,000 (US$1,575 and US$2,050). Luxury is key to driving up that indicator and with this story China Duty Free Group just made a powerful dual statement of credentials and intent.

– Martin Moodie

The store displays a series of classic Jaeger-LeCoultre models, integrating sophisticated watchmaking craftsmanship and refined aesthetic design.

Customers can experience the brand’s rich historical heritage and its “unremitting pursuit of exquisite craftsmanship and aesthetic creation”, CDFG commented.

Jaeger-LeCoultre also participated in the first two Watches and Wonders events, showcasing many of the house’s most complex and rare pieces.

2021 marked the 90th year of the brand’s Reverso Collection. The CDFG boutique allows consumers to experience the history and highly-recognisable design of the renowned collection.

“These watch brands have worked closely with CDFG to transform the stores and upgrade the image from all aspects, offering a novel shopping experience and more outstanding service to consumers,” CDFG said.

Driven by Hainan’s offshore duty free shopping policy and buoyed by the support of parent company China Tourism Group, CDFG said that it pays particular attention to building cooperation and communication with brands.

The retailer said that it is constantly enriching the consumer proposition and experience and innovating constantly in an effort to enhance the status of Hainan island’s duty free sector.

This will contribute to the construction of the Hainan Free Trade Port and promote the “sustainable and vigorous” development of the Hainan market, CDFG commented.

Footnote: Every fortnight The Moodie Davitt Report publishes Hainan Curated, in association with Foreo, a selection of all recent stories from the offshore duty free sector in Hainan province.

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The Moodie Davitt Report is delighted to announce the launch of 穆迪达维特中国旅游零售报告 – The Moodie Davitt China Travel Retail Report, a digital magazine dedicated to our industry’s hottest market.

The new digital title, to be launched in April, will be published in Mandarin and English five times a year across multiple platforms.

The launch edition will explore China Duty Free Group’s extraordinary rise over recent years to become the world’s number one travel retailer, together with a host of other high-quality features, analysis and interviews

This exciting new digital magazine from the world’s leading travel retail publisher will focus on all aspects of China’s travel-related ecosystem, including:

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