The Bund, Shanghai. Freeman Zhou.
The parent company of Vans, Supreme, Timberland and The North Face announced plans Monday to reorganise operations across the continent from April 2021. VF’s centre of brand operations will move from Hong Kong to Shanghai and its Asian supply hub will shift to Singapore. An additional regional service centre is planned in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
The move reflects broader trends, with a growing number of brands either abandoning or reducing operational strongholds in Hong Kong for other hubs in the region. Once a luxury shopping mecca, Hong Kong was facing challenges even before the pandemic as a result of clashes with Beijing that sent its economy into free fall.
Last week, SCMP reported that luxury brands including Versace, Salvatore Ferragamo, Bulgari, Fendi, Givenchy and Celine reduced headcounts in their Hong Kong headquarters in 2020 to better focus on mainland offices; L’Oréal reportedly plans to downsize its regional office and shift to the mainland and Singapore. A recent report by Savills indicated that the combined effects of Covid-19 and socio-political conflicts in Hong Kong will pressure more players to follow over the next couple of years, with Shanghai expected to reap the rewards.