Mon, Oct 12, 2009 - Page 12 News List

FEATURE : Taipei’s new mall caters to high-end market


A fountain in Bellavita’s central court occupies center stage under the shopping mall’s signature glass roof on Sept. 21.


Just when the clock ticked past 12pm on Sept. 21 — an hour after Taipei’s newest shopping mall, Bellavita, flung open its doors — one woman was seen walking out with a pair of Roger Vivier shoes, which carry a price tag of NT$26,000 (US$802).

“This is NT$5,000 to NT$6,000 more expensive than the same pair sold in Hong Kong, but it saves me the cost and time of flying over there to purchase them,” the 40-something woman said in an upbeat tone as she held up her first pair of Roger Vivier shoes.

Top-tier clientele with strong spending power is the target of Roger Vivier — the French luxury shoe brand beloved by A-list stars such as Nicole Kidman, Shu Qi (舒淇) and Carina Lau (劉嘉玲).

“We cannot underestimate the potential of these clients,” said Sarah Huang (黃伊亭), marketing supervisor of Dickson Trading Taiwan (台灣迪生), the sole distributor of Roger Vivier and Tod’s in Bellavita. “We started to get enquiries six months before the outlet opened.”

She’s right. More than 10 pairs of Roger Vivier shoes were sold in the first hour Bellavita was open, with some customers buying two pairs. The shoes carry price tags of between NT$20,000 and more than NT$200,000, although they could easily top NT$1 million for those wanting a custom-made pair decorated with diamonds or gold.

A woman reportedly bought a NT$250 million necklace at Bellavita on opening day as well.

The launch of Bellavita may not have come at the right time in Taiwan’s economy, given that consumer spending is still rebounding from the financial turmoil. While general consumer confidence showed signs of improvement, spending behavior remains largely focused on frugality.

The consumer confidence index picked up 3.45 points last month to reach a 15-month high of 56.45 after food costs stabilized and the TAIEX rebounded, a National Central University survey showed on Sept. 28.

Meanwhile, sales at department stores and shopping malls dropped 0.71 percent year-on-year to NT$17.2 billion in August, Ministry of Economic Affairs data released on Sept. 22 showed. The figure was NT$139.6 billion for the first eight months of the year, down 1.06 percent from the previous year, the data showed.

But S.H. Leung (梁秀卿), chairwoman of Bellavita, is unfazed.

“The economy isn’t as bad as the public perceives. We are upbeat on the prospect of Bellavita,” she said at the mall’s launch.

Despite her bullish tone, the mall’s management has declined to offer figures, including its break-even time frame, investment amount or revenue target. Local media has reported the total investment stands at nearly NT$10 billion.

Located in the Xinyi (信義) shopping area and within walking distance of the Taipei City Hall MRT station, Bellavita took a total of five years to become a reality, Leung said. It was a dream come true for the family’s three daughters, made possible by her husband C.C. Leung (梁次震), Quanta Computer Inc’s (廣達電腦) vice chairman and president.

One of the notable designs of the European-themed Bellavita, which has 6,316 ping (20,879m²;) of floor space on a 2,260-ping plot of land, is the glass roof at the center, with more than 2,445m²; of glass.

“The Leung family was on a trip to Milan, where they were awed by Galleria Vittorio Emanuele and thought that they should have the same design for their mall here,” said Virginia Siu (蕭韋菁), marketing and public relations executive at Bellavita.

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