Chinese take a shine to fine china from UK

Updated: 2013-08-12 10:00

By Zhang Chunyan and Susanna Ma in London (China Daily)

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"Chinese customers are always (going) to Wedgwood because it is such an iconic British brand," says Jordan Payrce, a sales assistant at the Wedgwood shop in Harrods of London.

Pointing to one popular collection, Payrce says: "They love this collection because they are English hand paintings. The decoration is typically English. These patterns date back to the 1930s. They buy these as real show pieces (and) they are proud to have them at home."

Wedgwood now has two Mandarin-speaking sales assistants in Harrods because of the numbers of Chinese customers, he says.

Li Li, a Chinese tourist in her 30s, bought a teacup and saucer collection with floral decorations in the store.

"My husband likes British bone china, which is of high quality and has a good reputation, so I'm buying this for him," she says.

Another Chinese visitor from Hong Kong, in her 60s, says: "What I like is the quality. More importantly, the unique design of the bone china, the cups and teapots."

Willis says the number of Chinese visitors to Harrods has grown in particular as a result of events concerning the British royal family.

"The diamond jubilee of her majesty the queen last year received great interest and sales grew as a result. This year we have a royal baby and we have developed an iconic range of products to mark this historic event, so we predict sales will continue to grow."

While china has dominated the ceramics industry for thousands of years, a surge of interest among Chinese people in recent years has been fueled by the increase in travel and prosperity, Willis says.

"I am sure that is set to continue for many years to come."

In June the World Tourism Organization said China is the fastest-growing tourism source market, with Chinese travelers increasing from 10 million in 2000 to 83 million last year. Their overseas spending totaled $102 billion, it says.

"Because the retail infrastructure evolves and more of the population travels around the world, we are seeing a variety of new opportunities arise," Willis says.

Chinese people travel to the UK and experience British afternoon tea culture, shop in central London's shopping malls and see the bone china brands. Those are the brands they then want to take home.