The symbolism of Rimowa suitcases resonates with travelers across the world. With their signature style and design, Rimowa has become synonymous with the seasoned jet setter. Dating back to 1898 when German-made leather and wood trunks crisscrossed Europe, soon to be ferried across the Atlantic on steamboats, Rimowa has continued to innovate with the changes in the way people see the world. In the early 1950’s, they became an icon of luxury and durability with their distinctive aluminum grooved design. By continuing as an industry leader, the early 2000’s incorporated the use of lightweight, yet durable, impact-resistant polycarbonate shells.
Now with a store located in Vattanac Capital Mall, the company is bringing high-end luggage products to the Kingdom. Post Plus met with General Manager Clemence Tan to talk about why the company decided to open up in Phnom Penh and who they target.
Why did Rimowa decide to open a store in Phnom Penh?
The company came to Phnom Penh because of Cambodia’s healthy economy and growing middle class. We wanted to bring the renowned name of Rimowa to the local market so that those who travel frequently will not have to go to places like Thailand and Singapore for quality luggage. Now the consumer can enjoy our products here. In addition, we wanted to help change consumer patterns as Cambodians accumulate more wealth and understand the definition of quality.
What are some of the hottest selling products here?
The Salsa model, which is the first model fully constructed from lightweight polycarbonate, is one of our best sellers. It has our patented four-wheel system that makes travelling easy. Aluminum luggage, like our legendary Topas line, which was originally developed for tropical travel, sells very well here too. These cases are among the lightest and most durable luggage on the market. We often have customers that have used their pieces for ten to twenty years. When it comes to luggage, there is no other competitor that has a legacy of 117 years of trusted service. Still to this day, 80 per cent of our products are handmade and imported from our facilities in Germany, the Czech Republic, Canada and Brazil.
What is the significance of opening up a shop in Vattanac Capital Mall?
It is really the up and coming mall in Phnom Penh focused on bringing in luxury brands. After surveying the retail environment in Phnom Penh, we decided it was the best place to display our brand, and to encourage other brands to come to Cambodia. Because the brand mix is very important to us, we need to be around luxury brands.
Who are RIMOwA’s target consumers?
Cambodians make up 60 per cent of our clientele. The rest are primarily Chinese, Japanese and Koreans who fly in to do business. We are also targeting tourists and expats who are looking to shop in the capital. Currently, due to the low operation costs, consumers have a real advantage: Our prices are very competitive throughout Asia.
How difficult is it to set up a new brand in Cambodia?
For new brands, a lot of it has to do with marketing properly and getting your name and reputation out to the public. Especially when it comes to the fashion industry, like jewelry and clothing where there are many counterfeits floating around, it is all about developing trust in the market and ensuring quality.
What is the future of the retail industry in Cambodia?
In the future, I expect Phnom Penh to become a world-class destination like Bangkok, especially as tourism numbers continue to increase. That is why we are planning on opening up a branch store in Siem Reap. Also, as more brands come to Cambodia it will push the country to grow and, as consumer habits change, it will bring investment back into the economy, instead of travelling overseas.