Hong Kong based retailer eyes investments in European luxury brands

HONG Kong retailer YGM Trading is interested in acquiring private luxury brands in Europe to expand its portfolio in China, set to become the world’s biggest luxury market within a decade, its CEO said yesterday. YGM, which holds licences for Aquascutum in Asia and French fashion brand Guy Laroche, sees rising rents and wage costs, and retaining staff, as key challenges in China, Shirley Chan said .

"We’re not looking at companies that are already (listed) on the stock market. I think that would require a significant investment, so (the targets) will be private companies," Ms Chan said.  "We find that there are more European brands in the market than in America," she said. "We feel that in Europe there may be many companies that started out like a family business, whereby in America, they are usually big companies, and may even be listed on the stock exchange."

Retailers operating in greater China, such as YGM and upmarket menswear retailer Trinity , have been acquiring European brands as increasingly wealthy Chinese consumers turn to expensive foreign brands for suits, handbags and shoes. There are high hopes for luxury brands in China, and analysts expect it to become the world’s largest luxury market by 2015, while some expect it to happen as soon as next year.