Gucci joins Alibaba's luxury e-commerce site to woo Chinese consumers

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Fashion label Gucci will open two flagship stores on Alibaba's online luxury shopping platform, underscoring the importance of the Chinese market for high-end brands seeking to reverse a revenue slide due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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Gucci, the profit engine of French group Kering, is one of the most prized names to join the Tmall Luxury Pavilion platform, which was created in 2017 and now boasts more than 200 brands ranging from apparel to high-end cars.

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Gucci's first flagship store, selling fashion and leather goods collections, will open on Dec. 21, the two companies said in a joint statement on Friday. A second store focused on beauty products will launch in February 2021 and will be operated by Gucci's license partner Coty.

China – where consumers shop far more by mobile phone apps than in the United States or Europe – has been a rare bright spot for luxury goods brands this year, with sales surging there since lockdown measures began to ease in the spring.

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Chinese customers already represented around 35% of luxury goods purchases before the pandemic and are now expected to account for almost half of global sales of high-end clothes, handbags and jewelry by 2025, according to consultancy Bain.

Luxury brands, which used to be more reticent to sell their products online, have been forced by the pandemic to shift more business on the web, including through third parties. They are also targeting younger consumers who are expected to drive the post-COVID-19 recovery.

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Gucci has its own Chinese website, gucci.cn, and is present on all major Chinese social media platforms, including Weibo and WeChat.

Alibaba said Tmall Luxury Pavilion has a consumer base of 750 million people.

(Reporting by Claudia Cristoferi Editing by Nick Zieminski)

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