Since its inception in 2003, operating then three retail outlets, Peninsula Merchandising Limited now has over 17 retail outlets worldwide located at selected The Peninsula Hotels, airports and reputable shopping destinations. Today, the company’s merchandise can be found in Hong Kong, China, Japan, Philippines, Taiwan, Thailand and the United States, with new boutiques scheduled to open in the coming years.
Retail in Asia had the pleasure to interview Guy Riddell, General Manager of Peninsula Merchandising Limited.
Guy Riddell joined Peninsula Merchandising Limited in 2019, overseeing the management of the company including the operation of The Peninsula Boutique and distribution of Peninsula merchandise and licensing of boutiques in key gateway cities.
With vast retail management experience behind him, Riddell will bring the company to new heights by delivering a detailed growth plan including retail store development and new market entry, a strategy that is complemented with expanding the product portfolio and implementing compelling seasonal campaigns.
RiA: The Peninsula is a very iconic brand, how are you conveying this message through the new design?
Guy: The design concept invokes the timeless combination of the tradition and glamour of the hotel, which was inaugurated in 1928, while adding a fresh, distinctly modern, innovative twist that also appeals to young urban consumers.
With the combination of colours, material and the finishing touch, the interior remains true to The Peninsula’s meticulous brand codes: a rich, classic palette, elegant lines, luxury materials and artisanal touches. Additional elements have been introduced to contemporise the overall experience, mixing classic and minimal aesthetics in a complementary manner that emphasises approachable luxury.
At the core of the design concept is a crisp and refined palette with marble, slate, leather and lacquer in the distinctive ‘Peninsula green’ offset by champagne metal and soft blush pink tones. Details such as brass edging express The Peninsula’s heritage in a minimalist way. The combination of contemporary colours and detailing give the open-plan interior a distinctive, modern edge and offsets the more classical elements.
In addition, there are three large photographic glass wall panels by experiential artist Ido Garini of Studio Appétit that reflect the artist’s painstaking research into the essence of the Peninsula brand and philosophy. The vivid, dynamic contemporary murals are composed of hundreds of decorative objects incorporating signature items and treats from the hotel.
RiA: You have just opened your new retail concept that walks the consumer through different stages of the experience, can you unfold it for us?
Guy: The Peninsula Boutique and Café is rectangular with a 30-metre-long glazed glass frontage. The spacious open-plan interior is arranged over three zones, each with a distinctive ambiance and there is a main centrally located entrance and a separate dedicated entrance to both the café and the Assouline bookstore.
Movement between the different zones is carefully considered in the design layout with an intuitive open feel and subtle layering of signage and views. Commissioned photographic collages by experiential design studio and concept house Studio Appétit add splashes of colour and drama, fusing art, food and community.
In the centrally located retail space, designated counters offer a variety of Peninsula branded retail experiences, such as chocolate tasting and gift-wrapping. A semi-enclosed inside area is specially designed to highlight the experience of tasting teas. A bold array of display counters and shelving has been designed with the packaging size and colour palette in mind.
The café on the far left is for customers to enjoy all-day coffee and freshly baked cakes and pastries, while the Assouline bookstore on the right offers a curated collection of its books.
RiA: Besides the retail concept, you also revamped the product collection, what are the news in this regard?
Guy: We are delighted to offer guests of all ages a wider range of lifestyle experiences with the new boutique and café. The Café, a new concept for our flagship offers a refined and cozy space for guests to unwind, enjoy signature treats and delicacies from The Peninsula Boutique complemented with Barista-crafted coffee and fine tea.
In addition to The Peninsula’s exquisite artisanal chocolates, celebrated gourmet sauces, exclusive tea blends, delicacies, pastries and cakes for every occasion with champagne or fine wines. To celebrate the opening, we have expanded our lifestyle offerings by introducing The Iconic Collection, featuring keepsakes from postcards to tote bag, fine bone china mugs to magnets and pins that harken back to the hotel’s early days. Inspired by vintage designs, this exclusive collection is a celebration of The Peninsula’s journey to becoming the Grand Dame of the Far East.
Another new signature item is the 3D-printed Page Hat Chocolates that are Inspired by the welcoming Pages at The Peninsula, available in passion fruit, raspberry, and smoky flavours, the 3D-printed chocolates are aesthetically designed for gifting or self-indulgence, a perfect memento of one’s stay at the legendary hotel.
RiA: What is your customer profile now that international travel is restricted?
Guy: With an extensive collection of seasonal gifts, cakes & pastries, fine tea, gourmet sauces, premium chocolates and lifestyle products. During time of travel restrictions, we experience an increase in online purchase, gifts delivery for special occasions, with the timely launch of the café, we can now expand our client base and offer a cozy environment for guests to sample our signature products.
RiA: How are you engaging consumers at this specific moment in time?
Guy: We share news on our social media platforms, engage our guests through in-store activations, check-in at our pop-up boutiques as well as connecting with them through newsletters and special events.
RiA: Your products are very well-known for gifting, what are the major festivities that drive sales and how do you work to celebrate them?
Guy: The Peninsula Boutique is home to the hotel’s collection of gourmet products and premium gifts based on decades of unmatched heritage. It is through this expertise from almost a century ago that helps to drive sales.
The Peninsula was the first Hong Kong brand to curate the finest delicacies from around the world since 1928, a tradition that continues even today as the company seeks out new inspiration from designers to produce exquisite collections of quality products, skillfully bringing the brand’s proud Asian heritage to an international audience.
The Peninsula’s team of expert chefs, highly-trained pâtissiers and chocolatiers have crafted exquisite artisanal chocolates and iconic signature mooncakes, as well as products ranging from the celebrated XO chilli sauces to exclusive tea blends, pastries and condiments. Cakes for every occasion are another speciality with the option to pair with champagne or fine wines.
Other gift ideas to truly brighten up someone’s day include filled hampers, porcelain tea sets, tote bags, figurines or iconic Peninsula Page Bears, all wrapped with premium, environmental-friendly packaging. Whether you are showing a friend you care, remembering a loved one on holiday or letting a colleague know they are appreciated, there’s sure to be a product for everyone.
All these sophisticated products are perfect for The Peninsula’s discerning guests, true connoisseurs who appreciate the finest, whether to gift, take on their travels or even enjoy at home!
RiA: The Peninsula brand has been able to build its brand identity globally, what are the destinations for the coming years?
Guy: A subsidiary of The Hongkong and Shanghai Hotels, Limited, Peninsula Merchandising Limited distributes Peninsula merchandise and licenses Peninsula Boutiques in key gateways of Asia.
The Peninsula Boutique outlets are located at The Peninsula Hotels in Hong Kong (Boutique & Café), Shanghai, Beijing, Tokyo (Boutique & Café), Manila and Bangkok. Peninsula merchandise is also available at The Peninsula Boutiques throughout Asia in leading department stores and shopping malls in Hong Kong, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Hangzhou, Taipei, Taichung, Kaoshiung and Tokyo; online delivery available in Hong Kong at peninsulaboutique.com.
We will continue to expand our portfolio in Asia, across mainland China and we look forward to the opening of The Peninsula Boutique in The Peninsula London in 2022.