Oct 29, 2009
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French luxury preens on website in China

Oct 29, 2009

PARIS, Oct 29, 2009 (AFP) - France's creme de la creme luxury firms, hit by a drop in sales on traditional markets, Thursday 29 October launched a China charm offensive, with a 3D website that gives a peek at the best France has to offer.

Photo: AFP/File/Mark Ralston

Launched in Paris and Beijing by the Comite Colbert group of 70 luxury firms, the 250,000-euro website developed over two years (www.cColbert.fr) shows off top-end products as well as the best of the French lifestyle.

The launch came as consultants Bain et Company said luxury goods are expected to slump 16 percent this year on the US market, 10 percent in Japan and eight percent in Europe -- but see a 12 percent hike in China.

"This is the first such internet site," said the Comite Colbert's Elisabeth Ponsolle des Portes. "3D previously was used for video and film but not on a website."

Users can watch a ballet performance, drool over patisseries, check out Paris hot spots and see the latest watches, perfumes and scarves.

"Luxury is not just about money but about culture and education," said the president of the Comite Colbert, Francoise Montenay.

"Products can be more or less expensive and you have to learn to distinguish between a very good product and a less good one."

Underlining the importance of the stakes, a number of leading luxury goods makers attended the launch of the site in Beijing, including Cartier, Hermes, Lanvin, Yves Delorme and Gien.

The website is hosted by China's biggest portal sina.com and will be available for six months.

In 2005, Comite Colbert companies registered 4.5 percent of their turnover in China, Hong Kong and Macau. That figure has gone up to eight percent on average, for some, up to 25 percent.

Over the last four years French luxury outlets in China have tripled to around 1,600, with 45 new boutiques due to be opened in 2009-2010, including 38 in mainland China.

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