Arcoretail linked up with the giant Chinese Jihua corporation to produce a series of innovative retail destination centers across China.This network of centers uses the name Jihua Park and as well as shopping they will also offer sporting opportunities such as indoor skiing, indoor surfing and indoor skydiving. In addition, they will have hotels and restaurants, with the idea being that they become touristic spots rather than just retail centers, rather like the malls in Dubai.
Arcoretail is an Italian company that specializes in designing, developing and managing retail centers. Malls.Com spoke to Arcoretail and they confirmed to us that 35 centers will be opened across China. The first one to be opened will be the Chongqing center in September of 2015. Following on will be the Jihua Park in Changchun, which should be open for business in November of December 2015.
The third of these destination centers to open will be in Yangzhong and this one will be opened in time for Chinese New Year’s eve at the start of 2016. After these initial 3 openings the rest of the new complexes will be opened at a rate of 5 each year.
The first phase in each new center will see 100 stores opened. The second phase will see this number rise to around 150, with the third phase seeing the centers get their final total of about 200 stores. Some centers will be bigger than other, though. The designated Alpha centers will have 60,000 square meters of shopping area, while the Beta centers will get 40,000 square meters.
In terms of the architecture, each of the Jihua Park centers will be different and will reflect the traditional Chinese style of the city they serve, although they will be based outside the cities rather than inside them. The idea behind the centers has been described by Arcoretail as “travel retail based” and as being kind of like an airport while having the feel of a village.
The destination centers that are built across China under this plan are expected to give consumers a full experience, with the sports and food options adding to the retail element. This means that the designers hope that Chinese consumers will choose to spend their vacations here. Chinese workers typically have fewer days off than in many other countries and the plan is that they choose to spend them in these centers, to do some shopping and enjoy the entertainment on offer rather than travelling farther.
The products on sale in the stores are going to be affordable rather than being very expensive. They have already spoken to many brands and state that while there won’t be discount stores, the big brands will sell items here that are among their most economical products. In this way, the purchaser can get a top brand without spending too much on it.
70% of the stores in each center will focus on premium but affordable brands, while there will also be a luxury part and a mass market part too. Among the reasons given by Arcoretail for not focusing more on luxury brands are that there aren’t enough very, very rich Chinese to justify it and that most of these extremely wealthy people buy on the street rather than out of town.
With counterfeit products being a major area of concern in China, every single product sold in each of the centers will carry a tag saying that it is certified by Jihua, which is viewed in the country as a highly reliable company to be trusted. There are also plans to launch a certified e-commerce platform which will also sell certified, original products. The company believes that the Chinese middle class want real products rather than fake ones.
Another important part of the launch of the new centers is that there are agreements in place with tour operators to ensure that they are part of the tours of each of the cities they serve. Each of the centers will use the same sort of architecture that is present in the city itself. Ideally, people will visit as many of the centers as they can, as they attempt to see the full Jihua Park collection.
We were told by Arcoretail that it is notoriously difficult to judge how many visitors a new retail center or mall in China will bring in. To help balance out this uncertainty, they feel that the sporting activities on offer in each center will bring in the first 3 or 4 million visitors, to help ensure that they meet a reasonable minimum figure. While most retail centers in China are European in style and based in towns, the fact that these are Chinese styled and out of town should help attract a different type of visitor, with Chinese tourists high on the list of potential consumers.
With the Chinese government encouraging people to discover their own country and spend money in China rather than going abroad these destination centers could help the Chinese to visit parts of the country they don’t yet know.
The food offering at Jihua Park will be typical Chinese, with a number of small cafes and restaurants. The luxury part of each center will be indicated through the sphere that is the symbol of Jihua.
9 DECEMBER 2014, China