Monkey business in the UK

Updated: 2016-02-29 08:13

(China Daily)

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Monkey business in the UK

The Shard, a 95-story architectural landmark, offers great views of London's most iconic attractions, including London Bridge.[Photo provided to China Daily]

A shopping holiday during Chinese New Year included special by-appointment services in Bond Street, hints of fashion-week excitement and plenty of Year of the Monkey goodies, Mike Peters discovers.

I'm not sure if Emma Thompson, one of my favorite film stars, got a monkey cookie when she popped into the Stella McCartney flagship store in London recently.

My little group touring the shop did, though.

And as we munched on the red-and-gold Lunar New Year treat, Thompson slipped quietly down the stairs from the VIP room, where she'd been examining a few pieces that had been chosen for her to examine by appointment, at her leisure with a glass of champagne and lots of happy banter.

You don't need to be an award-winning actress to get such treatment, though it's helpful to have a fat bank account.

Bond Street by Appointment provides customized itineraries to give travelers "the ultimate London luxury experience", and last year the program expanded in big ways to reach out to Chinese tourists who come to shop. Private shopping can include after-hours access, trunk shows and exclusive previews, hands-free shopping and a chauffeur.

Bond Street is home to over 130 luxury retailers, elegant boutiques, exclusive brands, designer fashion and bespoke goods. Many stores already had staff on hand that could speak Mandarin or Cantonese, but the new program delivered a carefully curated experience to anticipate the needs and desires of individual Chinese customers.

Organizers say Bond Street is the top destination for Chinese shoppers with China representing 23 percent of total international spending on the street with an average transaction of 1,450 pounds ($2,000).

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