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The Great Promise of China

来源:纽约时报    2018-12-29 12:01

        Western luxury money has been pouring into China at a rapid rate this fall.        西方奢侈品行业的资金在今年秋季快速涌入中国。
        In the last four weeks alone Richemont, the Swiss owner of brands like Cartier and the e-tailer Yoox Net-a-Porter, announced a joint venture with the Chinese online retail giant Alibaba in a bid to crack the online shopping market of a country now responsible for almost a third of all luxury sales worldwide.        仅在过去四周(本文最初发表于2018年11月19日——编注),就有卡地亚(Cartier)品牌与奢侈品电商Yoox Net-a-Porter的拥有者瑞士历峰集团(Richemont),与中国的在线零售巨头阿里巴巴宣布成立合资公司,以期在这个占全世界奢侈品销售额近三分之一的国家打开线上购买市场。
        Next, Condé Nast International unveiled plans for Vogue Hong Kong, the 26th global version of the fashion title with a print edition published in the traditional Chinese characters used in Hong Kong and a bilingual website, in Chinese and English. Then, in its latest earnings call, Ralph Lauren said it had opened 10 additional stores in mainland China in the last quarter, putting it on track to open more than 50 by the end of 2019. And Coach said it would stage its first runway show in China on Dec. 8, a blockbuster spectacle and after-party titled “Coach Lights Up Shanghai.”        随后,康泰纳仕国际集团(Condé Nast International)宣布了《Vogue》杂志香港版的出刊计划,以香港所使用的繁体中文出版这本时尚刊物的第26个版本,并推出一个中英双语网站。还有美国奢侈品集团拉夫·劳伦(Ralph Lauren)在最近一次电话会议上表示,上一个季度在中国大陆增开了10家门店,并希望以此为开端,到2019年末新增超过50家门店。时尚品牌蔻驰(Coach)也宣布12月8日举办在中国的首场时装秀,人气爆棚的夺目走秀及秀后派对被命名为“蔻驰点亮魔都”。
        China’s great luxury promise appears to have the sector’s biggest power players well and truly in its thrall. But in the background, dark clouds have also been gathering.        中国奢侈品市场的美好前景,似乎已收服了行业中最有实力的若干从业者。但其背后也有阴云在积聚。
        A brewing trade war with the United States, the weakening renminbi and the sputtering growth of China’s economy in recent months all have executives on edge. During the fall Golden Week, a holiday period around the Oct. 1 National Day observance when many Chinese consumers splurge on travel and luxury goods, sales grew at the slowest pace since 2000, according to data from China’s Ministry of Commerce.        发酵中的中美贸易战、走弱的人民币和近几个月来中国经济增长的乏力,都让这个行业的管理层提心吊胆。据中国商务部的数据,这个秋季的黄金周,也就是十一国庆时许多中国消费者纵容自己旅行及购买奢侈品的假期,销售增速是2000年以来的最低。
        The painful luxury industry downturn that occurred worldwide between 2013 and 2016 in the wake of a Chinese government clampdown on corruption and a spate of terrorist attacks in Europe — ending years of soaring sales growth — is still fresh in the minds of many. Could a similar situation be about to unfold again?        2013到2016年间,由于中国政府大力打击腐败以及欧洲发生的一波恐怖袭击,奢侈品行业多年的销量快速增长结束,进入了痛苦的全球性衰退,这一幕对很多人犹在眼前。类似的情形会不会又要重演?
        An inflection point came in early October, at the end of Golden Week, when social media posts showing emptied shopping bags, luggage searches and snaking lines at airport customs checks suggested that the state was cracking down on the practice known as daigou, when Chinese travelers buy high-end merchandise on trips abroad and sell the items at a profit after they return home. Spooked that the appetite for luxury goods in China could tip into a rapid slump, investor jitters prompted a global market sell-off, largely hitting European players such as LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, Kering, Richemont, Burberry and Prada. Companies in the United States, like Tapestry and Tiffany & Co., also felt the strain.        转折点是在10月初黄金周尾声时出现的,社交媒体上晒出了清空的购物袋、行李开箱受检和机场海关查验口排起长队,表明国家在打击所谓的代购,也就是中国游客在海外旅行中购买高端商品回国后转卖获利。投资者害怕中国对奢侈品的需求会急速下跌,紧张情绪引起全球资本市场抛售,沉重打击了路威酩轩集团(LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton)、开云集团(Kering)、历峰集团、博柏利(Burberry)和普拉达(Prada)等欧洲从业者。Tapestry和蒂芙尼(Tiffany & Co.)等美国公司也感到了焦虑。
        Some brands have sounded notes of caution about the current and future state of Chinese consumer confidence.        一些品牌已经对当前和未来的中国消费者信心状况发出警示。
        “In the past few months I would say there has been a slowing down of consumption, and probably the Chinese consumer is becoming more careful in what he or she does,” said Ermenegildo Zegna, chief executive of the Italian men’s luxury house of the same name. “I am more cautious than three months ago. For next year, we are going to plan a conservative budget because there are many uncertainties in the air and you have to be realistic.”        “我认为过去几个月里已经出现了消费变缓,也许中国消费者正变得更谨慎,”意大利同名男性奢侈品牌的总裁埃尔梅内吉尔多·杰尼亚(Ermenegildo Zegna)。说。“我比三个月前更小心了。明年我们会做出保守的预算计划,因为周围有很多不确定性,你得现实一点。”
        LVMH, the world’s largest luxury company by sales and the owner of big-name brands like Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior and Givenchy, acknowledged the customs crackdown in China alongside the risks of operating globally “in an uncertain geopolitical and monetary context,” pointing to Louis Vuitton’s slightly weaker sales to Chinese shoppers in the third quarter. Meanwhile, Kering, which reported a total third quarter revenue rise of 27 percent, to 3.4 billion euros (more than $3.8 billion), and a China revenue jump of 30 percent in the first half of 2018, has still seen a fifth of its share price wiped out since June on fears of a Chinese consumption contraction. According to RBC Capital Markets, a global investment bank in Toronto, similar concerns have produced an average share price decline of 20 percent at luxury companies since mid-May.        世界销售额最大的奢侈品集团,拥有路易威登(Louis Vuitton)、迪奥(Christian Dior)和纪梵希(Givenchy)等著名品牌的路威酩轩承认,中国海关的打击加上“在不确定的地缘政治及货币环境中”进行全球运营的风险,造成了路易威登三季度对中国购买者的销售轻微走弱。与此同时,开云集团报称三季度整体利润增长27%至34亿欧元,中国市场的利润在2018年上半年跃升了30%,尽管如此,由于市场对中国消费萎缩的恐惧,其股价较之今年6月时还是跌去了近五分之一。据位于多伦多的全球性投资银行加拿大皇家银行投资市场公司(RBC Capital Markets),类似的担忧使奢侈品公司的平均股价较之今年5月中下跌了20%。
        So what will come next for a sector that Bain & Co. still predicts will grow by 6 to 8 percent, to €281 billion from €276 billion, this year? Given the money still being plowed into the region by brands and investors alike, could the stock market be overreacting?        贝恩咨询公司(Bain & Co.)仍预计本财年这一行业将增长6%到8%,从2760亿欧元增至2810亿欧元,那么这个行业接下来会发生什么?既然品牌和投资人们仍然在把钱投进来,股票市场是不是反应过度了呢?
        “Clearly stocks were hit dramatically in past weeks, with investors keen to avoid being stung as they were in the last downturn,” said Erwan Rambourg, global co-head of consumer and retail research at HSBC. “However, it is possible that these macro fears are overextended and we can expect more of a soft landing.        “在过去数周股票显然严重受挫,投资者急于避免再像上次市场衰退时那样受伤,”汇丰银行消费者与零售研究联席主管埃尔文·朗堡(Erwan Rambourg)说。“不过这种大规模恐惧也有可能是过度了,我们更有可能的是软着陆。”
        “We believe the current ‘slowdown’ is more to do with being a period of normalization, after two years of phenomenal growth,” he added. “The sector decline will not be on as steep a slope as the market seems to expect.”        “我们相信目前的‘放缓’,更多是在两年的显著增长之后一段正常化的时期,”他补充道。“这个领域的下滑不会像市场预期的那样剧烈。”
        Thomas Chauvet, head of luxury goods equity research at Citigroup, concurred. He noted that many luxury brands had re-evaluated their expansion strategies in China in recent years, particularly around retail networks, targeted digital marketing and pricing, so their business — and bottom lines — are better protected in the event of another cyclical downturn.        花旗集团(Citigroup)奢侈品股票研究主管托马斯·肖韦(Thomas Chauvet)赞同此说。他提到近年来许多奢侈品牌重估了他们在中国扩张的策略,尤其是围绕零售网络、针对性的数字化营销和定价,因此他们的业务——以及盈亏——在又一次周期性回落的时候得到了更好的保护。
        He also added that luxury’s latest bull run had not been wholly dependent on Chinese spending: The American market has improved significantly in the last year, while many brands have posted double-digit sales growth in both Europe and Japan.        他还说,奢侈品的上一波牛市并不全是依赖中国人的花销:美国市场在去年明显好转,而许多品牌在欧洲和日本报出了两位数的销售增长。
        “Clearly China has been the white-hot engine for luxury growth lately — but this is also a global story, and price harmonization across markets is better than it was a few years ago,” Mr. Chauvet said. “The central question now should be whether international demand drivers are still in place to support a healthy level of sales and earnings growth over the next 12 months as China moderates.”        “奢侈品行业近年的增长,中国显然曾是白热的引擎,但这也是个全球性的故事,而且不同市场间的价格一致化也比几年前要好,”肖韦说。“现在的核心问题应该是,当中国市场放缓,未来12个月的国际需求驱动力是否足以支撑起健康的销售与盈利增长。”
        However, some market observers have highlighted positive consumer trends in China. As the country looks for ways to shore up its domestic economy, the government crackdown on daigou and the lowering of import duties this summer to encourage consumers to make purchases at home rather than chasing lower prices abroad are likely to make their mark, according to Angela Wang, a partner at the Boston Consulting Group and co-author, with the Chinese investment holding conglomerate Tencent, of a recently published study on China’s luxury market. She said that, although Chinese customers now are responsible for 32 percent of luxury goods sales worldwide, that number is still expected to grow to 40 percent by 2024 and power 75 percent growth of the global market. Unsurprisingly, millennials — particularly educated women — will be the driving force.        然而某些市场观察者更看重中国消费者的利好趋势。根据波士顿咨询集团(Boston Consulting Group)合伙人王佳茜(Angela Wang)与中国的投资控股集团腾讯近日合作发布的一份中国奢侈品市场研究报告,由于中国正设法提振国内经济,政府打击代购,并在今年夏天降低进口关税以鼓励消费者在国内完成购买,而不是到国外去寻求更低的价格,这些措施很可能收到成效。王佳茜表示,虽然中国消费者已经贡献了全球奢侈品销售额的32%,到2024年这个数字仍可望增长到40%,并在全球市场增长当中占到75%。不意外的是,千禧一代——尤其是受过良好教育的女性——将成为这一增长的驱动力。
        “Luxury shoppers in China have an average age of 28, a majority have college degrees and are far better educated than their parents,” Ms. Wang said, noting that more than 50 percent of luxury customers now lived in second- and third-tier cities like Tianjin and Dalian, bolstering the importance of online platforms as there are few premium malls in those locations.        “在中国,奢侈品购买者的平均年龄是28岁,多数上过大学,比他们父母受的教育好得多,”王佳茜说,她还指出现在超过半数的奢侈品消费者居住在天津、大连这样的二三线城市,这些地方没有多少高级商场,因此线上平台很重要。
        “Social shopping is now 11 percent of total luxury commerce in China and growing at a tremendous rate,” she added. “All this momentum won’t disappear in the wake of the recent slowdown.”        “社交购物现在占到中国全部奢侈品商务的11%,而且还在以极快的速度增长,”她补充道。“等最近的放缓过去之后,所有这些势头并不会消失。”
        The fact that many major players have continued to double down on their presence in China despite the recent uncertainty suggests that long-term opportunities will continue to trump short-term volatility. Richemont’s deal with Alibaba will allow sites like Net-a-Porter to begin business on Luxury Pavilion, an invitation-only luxury platform on Alibaba’s Tmall site — even as many Western brands are continuing to be cautious in their embrace of Chinese e-commerce and alliances with local internet platforms, primarily because of fears of counterfeiting and the risk of diluting the exclusivity of their products. Also, the action follows an investment last year by, Alibaba’s rival, in the luxury online marketplace Farfetch.        尽管近期局势不明朗,多家主要从业者仍继续增加他们在中国的押注,这一事实表明长期机会仍将胜过短期波动。历峰与阿里巴巴的交易使Net-a-Porter这样的奢侈品电商网站得以在Luxury Pavilion上开展业务,后者是阿里巴巴天猫网站上一个邀请制的奢侈品频道——尽管很多西方品牌对接纳中国电商,与本土互联网平台结盟仍然谨慎迟疑,主要是因为担心盗版以及稀释了他们产品的排他性。此外,这一动作是在阿里巴巴的竞争对手京东网去年投资奢侈品线上商场Farfetch之后做出的。
        “Our digital offering in China is in its infancy,” said Johann Rupert, Richemont’s chairman, “and we believe that partnering with Alibaba will enable us to become a significant and sustainable online player in this market.”        “我们在中国的数字产品还处于起步阶段,”历峰集团主席约翰·鲁伯特(Johann Rupert)说,“我们相信,与阿里巴巴合作将使我们成为这个市场中重要而持久的线上参与者。”
        Western companies are not the only ones looking farther afield to secure growth prospects.        到更远处寻求增长前景的并不只有西方公司。
        Despite the vast market on their doorsteps, a handful of Chinese luxury investors have been exploring a new market of their own in search of greater returns: Europe. This year, Shandong Ruyi bought the Swiss leather brand Bally while Fosun acquired the French fashion house Lanvin, both moves devised to reap profits from their countrymen’s appetite for luxury marques that otherwise would go into the pockets of Western companies.        尽管家门口就有巨大的市场,仍有为数不少的中国奢侈品行业投资者在寻求更多回报的过程中探索出了自己的一块新市场:欧洲。今年,山东如意集团收购了瑞士的皮具品牌Bally,复星集团收购了法国时装品牌Lanvin,都是为了收割国人对奢侈品名牌货的胃口带来的、原本进了西方公司口袋的利润。
        And for all the jitters around Golden Week, Singles Day — the annual one-day shopping festival founded by Alibaba as a time for Chinese consumers to celebrate being single — smashed all records Nov. 11 to become the biggest sales event in history. A record $30.8 billion in sales were made in 24 hours, a 27 percent increase on the total last year. Looking forward, the company said, expectations are that those figures will continue to rise.        黄金周过得战战兢兢,但光棍节——阿里巴巴为中国消费者欢庆单身而开创的一个年度购物节——却打破了过去所有双十一的纪录,成为史上创造最高销售额的活动。24小时内308亿美元的销售额纪录,比去年高了27%。再往前看,这家公司说,他们预计这些数字会继续增长。
        The day after the event, Michael Evans, president of Alibaba Group, talked about it at The New York Times International Luxury Conference, held in Hong Kong: “Part of the reason we invest so much into the infrastructure of Singles Day — a day where we delivered over one billion packages in 24 hours this year — is because we believe a time will come when we will be operating at that scale every single day.”        活动结束次日,阿里巴巴集团总裁迈克尔·埃文斯(Michael Evans)在香港举行的纽约时报国际奢侈品峰会上说:“为什么我们要为光棍节这一天在基础设施上投入那么多——今年的这一天我们在24小时内发出了超过十亿个包裹——部分是因为我们相信,总有一天我们每天都会以这样的规模运营。”
        Now, eyes are turned to see how consumer desire for high-ticket handbags, ready-to-wear and sneakers — as well as lower-priced items such as cosmetics and fragrances — will fare during the important fourth quarter of the retail calendar.        现在,众人的目光都注视着在零售业至关重要的第四季度,消费者对昂贵手袋、成衣和运动鞋——也包括化妆品和香水之类低价商品——的欲望最终价值几何。
        “To say that the luxury sector is entering another perfect storm would be too aggressive,” said Mr. Chauvet, of Citigroup. “Then again, when consumers don’t feel a sense of optimism or feel worried about the world around them, luxury purchases are often the first to go. For now, the industry mode has got to be ‘wait and see.’”        “说奢侈品行业正在走进又一场大风暴,太言过其实了,”花旗集团的肖韦说。“话又说回来,当消费者感觉不乐观,或者对身边世界感到担忧,奢侈品购买往往是头一个告吹的。眼下,业内的态度肯定是‘等等看’。”

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