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Worldview: New Shopping District Opens in Tokyo’s Azabudai Hills

This week’s round-up of global markets fashion business news also features Hong Kong jewellery giant Chow Tai Fook, Ghana’s travel retail move and Brazilian apparel retailer Lojas Renner.
Shingo Tsuji, the head of Mori Building Co., Ltd., poses next to a model of "Azabudai Hills", the latest project by Japanese property developer Mori Building Co.
Shingo Tsuji, head of Mori Building Company, poses next to a model of the newly built Azabudai Hills district in Tokyo, Japan. (Gettty)

🇯🇵 Tokyo’s Azabudai Hills could become a new luxury shopping hub. Japanese property developer, the Mori Building Company, has opened an enormous mixed use complex featuring offices, residences, retail space, hotels, cultural facilities and universities in the city’s Minato ward, centred around three newly built skyscrapers, one of which now ranks as Japan’s tallest building. Situated between Mori Building’s sister projects, Roppongi Hills and Toranomon Hills, the complex will house dozens of global luxury brands in spring 2024, according to a list of stores on the district’s website. [Japan Times]

🇨🇳 Chow Tai Fook revenues are up in the Hong Kong and Macau markets. The Hong Kong-based jewellery giant has reported a 6.4 percent year over year increase of overall revenue in the H1 FY24 period reaching HK$49.5 billion (US$6.3 billion). Mainland China market revenues fell 0.6 per cent to HK$40.7 billion but revenue in Hong Kong, Macau and other markets was up 57.7 per cent to HK$8.8 billion on the back of the partial return of mainland Chinese tourists to the special administrative regions. [Inside Retail Asia]

🇧🇷 Brazilian fashion retail giant Lojas Renner sees profits fall 32.9% in Q3. The Porto Alegre-based group operating a chain of 600 stores selling affordable fashion brands Renner, Youcom and Repassa across Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay has recorded net profit of 172.9 million reais ($35.2 million) in the period. In a statement, the company cited “a still challenging consumption scenario, especially in August…However in September sales improved, a trend that continued in October.” [Fashion Network Brazil, Bloomberg]

🇬🇭 Ghana hosts Middle East & Africa Duty Free Association conference. Investor Roberta Annan, founder of African Fashion Foundation and Annan Capital Partners, opened the conference hosted by Avolta, the parent company of travel retailer Dufry. The event, which saw duty-free and other retailers selling fashion, beauty and other products gather in the Ghanaian capital Accra, was the first edition held in West Africa. [Global Retail Travel Magazine]

🇨🇳 Harvey Nichols will vacate Hong Kong’s Landmark mall in March. The London-based luxury department store owned by Hong Kong-based Dickson Concepts will give up its lease on the 60,000 sq ft space amid weaker spending in Hong Kong by locals and Chinese tourists. [South China Morning Post]

🇦🇺 Profits down at Australian billionaire Naomi Milgrom’s fashion group. ARJ Group, the private vehicle that holds women’s fashion brands Sportsgirl, Sussan and Suzanne Grae, has posted a fall in annual profit, from AUS$34.8 million (US$22.9) to AUS $13.7 million (US$9 million) in the 12 months to July last year, according to accounts lodged with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission. [Australian Financial Review]

🇳🇵 Social media influencers in Nepal are angry about an abrupt TikTok ban. Citing loss of income and freedom of speech, people held protests in the capital Kathmandu with content creators demanding the government revoke its recent ban on the app. Nepal’s neighbour India banned it and other Chinese apps in 2020 over concerns about data usage and TikTok owner Bytedance’s proximity to the Chinese government, whereas the Nepal government’s stated rationale is that the app disturbs “social harmony and goodwill.” [Reuters]

🇨🇳 Alibaba reassures staff over layoff rumours and Jack Ma share sale. Jiang Fang, chief talent officer at the Chinese e-commerce major, said rumours that it plans to lay off 25,000 people were untrue and that the timing of news that company founder Jack Ma is selling some shares was coincidental to an announcement that the firm is scrapping its plans to list its cloud unit. [Reuters]

🇦🇺 Australian luxury brand Oroton doubles FY23 operating profit. The 85-year-old leather goods and accessories retailer acquired by billionaire Will Vicars in 2017 has recorded annual operating profit of AUS$7.4 million (US$4.8) in 2023. During the period, the brand opened two new stores in Sydney and one in Perth, with CEO Jennifer Child stating, “we continued to refine our retail footprint with a ‘right store, optimal catchment’ approach.” [Ragtrader]

🇨🇳 Chinese social media’s end of anonymity impacts fashion influencers. A new government rule requiring users with large followings to show their real names has drawn criticism from influencers who say it eliminates their privacy and exposes them to harassment. WeChat, Douyin, Xiaohongshu and Bilibili published separate statements with Weibo saying it will first apply to users with over 1 million followers, then to those with over 500,000. Some fashion and beauty content creators who go by aliases have reduced their follower counts or left platforms. [Rest of World]

🇮🇷 Iran signs MOU with China to expand textile industry trade. The chairman of the board of directors of the Iran Textile Industries Association and the head of China International Textile Trade Promotion Council in Shanghai have signed a memorandum of understanding on the sidelines of ITMA Asia, a biannual textile and garment technology exhibition. The two sides stated ambitions to expand investment and share technical know-how. [Kohan Textile Journal]

🇨🇳 BASF defends its textile joint ventures in China’s Xinjiang province. The German multi-national chemical producer, whose innovations include materials for stretch textiles used in sportswear, is facing scrutiny over alleged links to companies in the province. Inputs from Xinjiang are mostly barred from entering the United States because of concern for Uyghurs and other minorities who have faced forced labour in global supply chains for industries such as cotton. BASF said, “none of [our recent audit] reviews have found any evidence of forced labour or other human rights violations.” [Sourcing Journal]

🇹🇩 Better Cotton looks to expand in Africa by launching programme in Chad. The London-based non-profit is reportedly in discussions with Cotontchad, the country’s only known aggregator and exporter of cotton. Its initiatives typically aim to improve farmers’ profitability, increase the sustainable cotton yield and monitor climate resilience improvement activities. Better Cotton is already grown in 22 countries, including four other African nations, and it has recently launched a programme in Côte d’Ivoire. [Ecotextile News]

🇨🇳 Hong Kong to host US streetwear festival Complexcon next year. The event popular with sneakerheads and youth culture aficionados since it was founded in Los Angeles in 2016 has partnered with AsiaWorld-Expo. It expects to attract 30,000 guests from across the Asia region when it bows in March 2024. Complex, the US magazine affiliated with the event, entered China in 2021 with a local language edition. [South China Morning Post]

🇮🇳 Indian footwear retailer Khadim to raise funds of 15 crore rupees. Through a preferential issue of fully convertible equity share warrants, the company plans to use the funds worth around $1.8 million for a nationwide retail expansion plan. “[It] enables the stakeholders to participate in the growth trajectory of Khadim,” said Indrajit Chaudhuri, CFO of the company which sells brands including its namesake Khadim, British Walkers, Lazard, Turk, Pro, Sharon, Cleo and Waves across more than 840 retail outlets. [Economic Times]

🇦🇪 Van Cleef & Arpels opens L’École School of Jewelry Arts in Dubai. The French jeweller has opened a permanent campus in the Dubai Design District (D3), making the Middle East branch the fourth international location after Paris, Hong Kong and Shanghai. It will offer a programme of courses on gemstones and jewellery know-how and history, talks, exhibitions, publications and research projects. [Gulf Today]

🇯🇵 Puma appoints Ryokusai Inoue as general manager of its Japan business. The German sportswear giant has tapped Inoue, an executive who had a stint at Tesla, to succeed Kohei Hagio, Puma Japan’s head since 2021. Inoue will report directly to the Puma CEO Arne Freundt. [Inside Retail Asia]

🇨🇳 Valentino taps Chinese actress Yang Zi as brand ambassador. Yang, also known as Andy Yang, is famous for her roles in television dramas. The Italian luxury brand has featured her in a campaign for its Spring 2024 collection. [Jing Daily]

🇰🇷 Dolce & Gabbana taps Korean actress Mun Kayoung as brand ambassador. The German-born, South Korean-raised actress, also known as Moon Ga-young, is famous for her roles in popular television series. [BoF Inbox]

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