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Marquee brands offer real luxury
By Pan Haixia and Xu Xiaomin (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-10-19 06:01

SHANGHAI: Bentley, Brabus, Cadillac, Spyker. As the old saying goes, if you have to ask "how much," you can't afford it.

Top Marques, renowned as the world's most luxurious supercar show, made its debut in Shanghai yesterday.

But it wasn't just cars that captured visitors' fancy. About 50 of the world's leading brands brought their finest products from sedans to private jets, from furniture to jewellery.

About one-third of the top brands at the Shanghai exhibition are automobiles. More than 20 super sports cars and sedans were shipped for the three-day exhibition, with prices ranging from 700,000 to 10 million yuan (US$86,400 to US$1.23 million).

Also for the first time in Top Marques history, Chinese brands have a presence.

The 10 brands are mainly of traditional Chinese products, including tea, rice wine and furniture. Many have prices far surpassing those for exotic goods.

Yuanhengli, a top brand of classic hardwood furniture in China, priced a set of its furniture at around 12 million yuan (US$1.48 million).

Even so, Yang Bo, boss of Yuanhengli, said he had already received 4 million yuan (US$493,000) worth of orders on the first day of the exhibition, which caught even him by surprise.

"Our furniture is unique because it is all made of Onmosia henryi," Yang said.

"The specific wood is especially good for furniture making. Apart from its excellent quality, it is also the only furniture wood that, according to Traditional Chinese Medicine, promotes blood circulation."

So, what brands are the super-rich in Shanghai buying?

"For truly rich people, the pursuit of luxury is not solely on brand," said Alessandro Carnielli, president of Vanity Jewels.

"Beyond the good material and man-made process, they want something unique that is tailored specifically to their tastes and belongs only to them."

According to the organizing committee, more than 6,000 Chinese tycoons confirmed they would come to the exhibition.

About 90 per cent of them are from the Chinese mainland and the rest from Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macao.

Ruan Suyou, president of Ernest & Julio Gallo winemakers, said he had visited Top Marques Monaco several times.

"It is a good platform that gathers up-market brands for high-end buyers."

He was interested in a Spyker sports car. Price tag: about 5 million yuan (US$615,000).

According to a recent report released by Ernst & Young, the Chinese luxury market currently generates more than US$2 billion in sales a year, which is about 12 per cent of the world's sales of luxury goods. By 2015, it should reach US$11.5 billion.

Now, that's sustainable growth.

(China Daily 10/19/2005 page1)

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