Mr David Lo, President of Gaastra has acquired global brand ownership rights of Gaastra in 1994 and has gradually brought this European brand to Asia. Befitting its heritage of over 120 years and guided by the philosophy of "Think Global. Act Local", the Group has notched remarkable achievements in the development of international markets, including opening a flagship store in Japan, a market known for rigorous requirements for quality. Furthermore, Gaastra has been appointed as an official supplier for several consecutive Olympic Games. It has also sponsored China's National Team, the National Maritime Museum in the Netherlands and many world-class yacht racing teams.
Gaastra brand has proactively responded to the rapid expansion of e-commerce in the fashion industry by launching an e-commerce initiative during the early years of this trend. Recently, the sales amount of the online apparel business alone has grown an average of 15% every year, exceeding HK$200 million annually. To boost its e-commerce business, the Group would launch a new e-commerce platform www.gaastrastore.com in April of this year. Equipped with the enhanced online back-office technology to improve the stability of viewing and security of information, the platform is able to provide a convenient and fast online shopping experience to customers. The e-commerce platform combined with big data are expected to generate a greater revenue contribution to the Group's business in the future.
Apart from the online business, the Group is actively planning its offline sales presence. It intends to commence the wholesale and distribution business in 2019 and expand the O2O retail business to Europe in 2020, with the aim of capturing a strong demand for nautical and lifestyle fashion among global consumers through omni-channels.
With respect to business development, Gaastra has set sail and is moving full speed ahead. In the meantime, the Group has spared no efforts to fulfil its social responsibility and maintain business ethics. Over many years, the Group has continuously pursued innovation in responsible raw materials and technology. Its new product collection with the theme of sustainability is planned to be launched in the Spring Summer 2019 Collection. The new nautical lifestyle fashion collection is made of revolutionary new raw materials, for example, non-toxic dyeing technology for fabric and energy-saving and emissions-reducing cold film materials invested in by the Group. The Group has also invested in an incredibly degradable plastic masterbatch, which has been patented and granted numerous international certifications, as it has taken the initiative to address the issues of marine plastic waste and global warming at their source. The whole project has commanded a total investment of approximately HK$300 million of which approximately HK$50 million has been used as startup capital. Moreover, the Group has decided to phase out genuine leather, down and fur in producing apparel and accessories by the end of 2020 and to replace with sustainable materials instead. It will also use degradable logistics packaging materials for its official online fashion shop, so as to align with Gaastra brand's philosophy of respecting the ocean.
Mr Lo said, "We always strive our utmost to strike a balance between optimising benefits and high business ethics as we hope to promote the sustainable development of the Group as well as the industry, so that the renowned European brand of Gaastra can prevail around the globe for centuries to come."
In recent years, sailing is regarded as a healthy and environmental-friendly water leisure activity and has become one of the popular sports in the mainland and coastal cities of China. After China won its first gold medal at the Optimist World Sailing Championship in 2009, more Chinese racers and sailing teams have won medals in competitions including the Olympic Games. Greater numbers of the general public have started engaging in this water sport. For instance, the National OP/Optimist Competition had attracted 31 racing teams in 2017 and more than 10,000 primary students can attend yacht lessons free of charge every year. All these trends can be seen in the rapid growth in the number of sailing competitions in China and the proliferation of sailboat, yacht, sailing and watersports clubs throughout the country, currently totaling about 200. To tap the fast-growing China market, Gaastra has embarked on participation in the sailing sport area in 2011 by sponsoring China's National Team in international championship competitions, launching its core product category - nautical lifestyle fashion - in China and opening retail outlets in Qingdao, known as China's sailing city.
Also noteworthy is that the Group will sign a sponsorship agreement with the Chinese Yachting Association. Pursuant to the agreement, Gaastra is to be the sportswear sponsor of both the Chinese Yachting Association and China's National Sailing Team, thereby further expanding its presence in China's sailing world.
Mr Lo added, "Sailing still has substantial room for further in China, when compared with the well-developed markets such as Europe and the US. The conditions of rising consumer spending and greater health awareness of the public are combining to generate strong favourable currents for sailing and thereby creating unlimited opportunities for Gaastra. Looking ahead, we hope to actively forge more strategic partnerships and promote the culture of sailing in Europe and Asia so as to capture the huge potential of the markets."
About Gaastra UN LimitedGaastra UN Limited provides professional sailing clothing and nautical lifestyle fashion and accessories under the Dutch professional nautical lifestyle brand Gasstra, which was founded in 1897. In addition to the strategic base of its fashion business in Hong Kong, the Group has offices in the Netherlands and Germany. The Gaastra brand has been appointed as official supplier for several consecutive Olympic Games. It has also sponsored China's National Sailing Team, The National Maritime Museum in the Netherlands and many world-class sailing racing teams. The Group has a wide range of products, which combine nautical style, distinctive creativity, superb technology and high quality. It has also contributed to the sustainable development of the environment through investment in patented technology with the aim of addressing pollution problems at their source.
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