Russia's luxury flagship store turns to Chinese spenders
By Olga Sichkar and Jack Stubbs
MOSCOW (Reuters) - Framed by Swarovski crystal figurines and crocodile skin-clad smart phones, sales promotions at Moscow's exclusive TsUM department store are being publicized in two languages: Russian, of course, and now Chinese.
The bi-lingual signs, promising to match the prices of all luxury goods with those on sale in Milan, are part of a push by store operator Mercury to encourage high-spending Chinese visitors to shop in TsUM'S neo-Gothic store, rather than the boutiques of the Italian fashion capital.
Luxury retailers have fared better than many mass-market brands during Russia's economic crisis but they still need foreign shoppers to compensate for falling spending by local consumers.
Mercury, a holding group of more than 100 premium stores and boutiques across Russia, plans to increase sales in euros by 10-12 percent this year by targeting Chinese spenders in particular, said General Director Alexander Pavlov.
Shoppers from China accounted for 7 percent of the group's sales in 2015 and while the country's economy is slowing sharply, at least it is still growing unlike Russia's which is shrinking.
Chinese visitors have become a more frequent sight in central Moscow, some carrying bright orange shopping bags from TsUM, and Pavlov has high hopes. "We think that the number of Chinese customers in our shops will increase significantly and could reach 30 percent," he said.
TsUM's store in Moscow, a stone's throw from the Kremlin, has recruited 25 Chinese-speaking sales assistants and slashed prices to compete with western European rivals, he added.