Why settle for less when you can have more, appears to be the Gloria Hotel Group’s business model as it expands its footprint.
One of the reasons why Taiwan is more a business-class rather than first-class destination for luxury goods is that apart from buying things, there is little else for international men or women of means to do in their accustomed manner.
To become Asia’s number-one shopping destination, Taiwan will have to compete with the premium-class delights on offer in Hong Kong, Seoul, and Singapore, including their deluxe hotels, spas, butler service, and Michelin-starred dining options.
This first-class market is not just about luxury goods (the hardware) but also the experience (software), a fact that has been recognized by Gloria Hotel Group Chairman and Chief Executive John Chen. “We believe luxury has always been an experience and will continue to be,” he says. “To be luxurious is to offer a perfect combination of service, goods, and value.”
“Unfortunately, as in many industries here, available products [in the hospitality field] are somewhat one-dimensional. As one of the major hotel operators in Taiwan, we believe a richer portfolio of hotels will definitely have a positive impact on attracting luxury tourists from all over the world,” Chen confides. “We have also noticed that seasoned tourists prefer to stay at hotels that are not luxurious in the traditional sense, but unique in style, which reflects their lifestyles more closely.”
Gloria Hotel is leading the way in this respect. In May, it plans to open its latest boutique-style Hotel Proverbs Taipei. Once again it has collaborated with designer Ray Chen, who worked on two other hotels in the company’s expanding hotel chain, the Hotel Quote Taipei and Gloria Residence.
In August, the group is set to open up phase one of Gloria Outlets, which will eventually accommodate 260 major luxury-brand tenants offering located discounts of 35-70%. The super mall will be located in Taoyuan near the High Speed Rail station and just 10 minutes away from the international airport, making it easily accessible to both domestic consumers and international visitors. The complex will also contain a deluxe hotel, office space, and cinemas.
In addition, the mall will include an onsite airport check-in center to enable international travelers to shop till they flop, VIP Lounge, information center with bilingual service staff, free WIFI, large-scale food court, cafes, and restaurants with a variety of Western and Asian cuisines, plus other amenities. All of which is designed to create a first-class experience.
“The model of an outlet requires it to be a distance away from the full-price market to avoid cannibalization,” Chen says, adding that the convenient transportation link will allow it to “be the first or last stop of everyone’s visit to Taiwan.” He says the mall will “not only quench people’s desire for shopping, but also drive the growth of the retail industry in Taiwan.”
“Full-price department stores usually cater to customers that reside within a five to 10-kilometer radius of the sites, whereas Gloria Outlets can cover shoppers within a much greater area – up to 60 kilometers,” says Chen. He predicts sales of between NT$3 billion and $4 billion annually.
“We aim to provide a platform that satisfies both the needs of brands and shoppers,” he notes. “By creating the right shopping experience, we are ensuring the satisfaction of the shoppers and maximizing the sales of the brands.”
Teaming up with The Outlet! Company, a developer and operator of outlet centers from the United States, the Western-style operation will include luxury brands such as Italy’s Giorgio Armani, Salvatore Ferragamo, and Versace, Spanish luxury house Loewe, and the New York-based Coach.
Importantly, Gloria Outlets will not be carrying retail offerings already existing in Taoyuan and Taipei, but rather add to the mix to develop new markets, Chen insists. “As an outlet shopping mall, Gloria Outlets will not be competing with the existing department stores. In fact, it will trigger another growth of the retail industry by completing the inventory cycle.”
The second phase of Gloria Outlets is scheduled to start in the spring next year, while the final two phases will commence in winter 2016 and the first half of 2017.
The company sees itself as contributing to a virtuous circle for Taiwan’s economic development. Its new facilities will create new jobs, many of them well-paid. In turn, such jobs help expand the market for luxury products. “The expansion of a high-income population creates more opportunities for luxury shopping, which naturally leads to more internationally well-known luxury brands setting up in the Taiwan market,” says Chen.
This is part of a 6-part feature story on luxury goods in Taiwan:
Aiming to be Asia’s Luxury Shopping Destination
From Bags to Riches
The Jewelry in Taiwan’s Crown
Luxury Watches: More Than Just Telling the Time
Upgrading to First-Class
Chinese Aesthetic with a Contemporary Style