Weekly News Wrap: Luxury giants bank on Chinese return; Apple starts hiring in Malaysia retail bid
And a Japanese whaling firm pins hopes on an ‘unmanned store’ to revive sales.
The focus of the luxury industry is shifting back to China, with hopes that its high-end spenders will once again splurge on designer goods during Lunar New Year festivities as Beijing relaxes COVID curbs after three long years.
Quarterly results from LVMH and Europe's other luxury goods companies will offer glimpses of the toll of last year's COVID-related disruptions in China, even as the companies roll out pricey new collections tied to the Year of the Rabbit.
They are expected to see a deceleration in sales growth over the quarter as the post-pandemic splurge on designer fashions begins to ease in the United States and Europe.
Consensus estimates cited by UBS are for Q4 sales growth of 7% at LVMH, and for a sales decline of 2% at Kering, which reports results on 15 February. Hermes, which reports fourth-quarter results on 17 February, is expected to show sales growth of 17%, a decline from 24% in Q3.
READ MORE: Weekly News Wrap: Asian retailers lure tourists on Lunar New Year; India plans cheaper finance for small retailers
Apple has begun hiring employees for a retail push into Malaysia, preparing to bring its chain to the Asian nation for the first time.
The company recently published job listings on its website for locations in Malaysia, seeking store managers, technical specialists and support staff, salespeople for businesses, and operations experts. The listings indicate that the positions will be for Apple’s own retail stores, not third-party reseller locations that have long operated in Malaysia.
The move will bolster Apple’s presence in Southeast Asia, where it already has stores in Thailand and Singapore. The company also recently started promoting job listings for its first location in India, which has been planned for several years.
A Japanese whaling firm unveiled vending machines offering whale sashimi, whale steak and whale bacon in Yokohama on Tuesday in hopes of reviving sales of food long in decline and shunned by many supermarkets.
Wearing a whale-shaped hat, Kyodo Senpaku president Hideki Tokoro greeted prospective customers at the firm's latest 'unmanned store' - a trio of vending machines in Motomachi, a shopping district home to fashion boutiques and artisan bakeries.
The firm has recently set up two outlets in Tokyo, plans to open a fourth in the western city of Osaka next month, and hopes to grow to 100 locations over the next five years.
"There are many major supermarkets that are afraid of being harassed by anti-whaling groups so they won't use whales. So there are many people who want to eat whales but can't," Tokoro told Reuters at the launch.