Marimekko enters Chinese market
CEO Mika Ihamuotila is studying Chinese
The Finnish fashion house and textiles designer Marimekko celebrated the opening of its first retail store in Hong Kong on Thursday. The company intends to open its next outlet in Shanghai as soon as suitable premises are found.
The plan is to open another 13 Marimekko stores in China by the end of 2016, according to Marimekko’s press release published on Thursday.
”We expect China to have a significant impact on Marimekko’s operations”, CEO Mika Ihamuotila anticipates.
Marimekko has been expanding its store network systematically in the Asia-Pacific region, and Japan has become the company’s second largest market, just behind Finland.
Ihamuotila admits that in spite of market studies he is not certain about the behaviour of Chinese consumers.
The company is attempting to attract customers in the increasingly prosperous middle class, who are not willing to buy the most expensive luxury products but do not accept the cheapest textiles, either.
”The first stores will show whether or not there is demand for a brand like Marimekko in the Chinese market”, Ihamuotila notes.
According to the CEO, in Finland China is regarded just as a country of cheap production and labour, but it has actually become an attractive marketplace for foreign products. A total of 60 per cent of all Marimekko products for sale in China have been made in Finland.
”The fact that a product carries a 'Made in Finland' label makes it a luxury item. Chinese products have been imported into Finland for many decades, but now we are selling Finnish products to Chinese customers. This is quite a phenomenon. Manufacturing costs are no longer so important”, Ihamuotila continues.
One of the challenges is the large number of pirated products sold openly in China. It has long been possible to buy unauthorised copies of Marimekko designs in Beijing. In order to ready itself for the situation, the company has registered its products and hired lawyers.
Marimekko intends to intervene vigorously in all cases involving counterfeit products.
”Measures should be taken against counterfeiting immediately. This has been an area in which Finnish design labels have not taken sufficient action. They have just allowed others to copy their designs”, the Marimekko CEO argues.
Ihamuotila has studied Chinese already for one year in advance of the launch.
”With the language skills acquired so far, I have managed to assure them that we are serious about this new venture”, Ihamuotila believes.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Google Doodle presence causes Marimekko website to crash (21.3.2012)
Marimekko has faith in purchasing power of Chinese middle class (31.1.2012)
Marimekko expands despite losses (18.8.2011)
Finnish manufacturers suffer from counterfeiting of their goods in China (3.1.2011)
Rovio´s Angry Birds fall victim to piracy in China (20.9.2011)
Marimekko press release 3.5.2012