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BT hires in extra Chinese-speaking staff as sales boom


 Brown Thomas on Grafton Street. Picture: Mark Condren

Brown Thomas on Grafton Street. Picture: Mark Condren

Brown Thomas on Grafton Street. Picture: Mark Condren

LUXURY store Brown Thomas has hired 10 more Mandarin-speaking staff to cover the busy Christmas sales period.

The luxury Dublin department store already has 25 Mandarin-speaking staff to meet the demands of their booming business.

The eastern customer spends three times more than their normal customer, general manager Mark Limby told the Herald.

The Grafton Street store previously had only one or two Mandarin speakers in its staff to assist customers but with the influx of Chinese tourists in recent years more were needed.

"What we find is that we have a lot more business coming from China, some speak English but for a more in-depth conversation Mandarin is required," explained Mr Limby.

Residential Brown Thomas staff have also received cultural training to deal with the growing numbers of Chinese customers through the UCD Confucius Institute which aims to promote China-Ireland cooperation in business and education.

The Chinese customer buys brands such as Hermes, Chanel and Louis Vuitton with one-item-sales of €20,000 not uncommon.

The tourists are also interested in European brands, said the general manager.

"There's increasingly more interest in Burberry and Waterford Crystal," noted Mr Limby.



Sterling would have been the biggest spend in the Brown Thomas Dublin store but over the summer the Chinese spend overtook it.

Another big factor that draws the Chinese tourist to Brown Thomas is the fact that they now have 12 terminals in store that accept the China Union Card, their equivalent of our credit card.

Very few businesses in Ireland hold these machines.

The American dollar which had declined in recent years has increased greatly, Mr Limby told the Herald.

The Chinese tourists have flocked to Ireland with money for a variety of reasons.

Firstly visa restrictions were eased last year which "makes it a lot easier for them to come in", explained Mr Limby.

Also the strength of the Chinese economy coupled with the growth of their middle class has helped, he said.

"When you combine the price difference, the conversion with the euro and the tax back they save a lot of money shopping here," Mr Limby explained.

There are also some brands on sale in Ireland that the Chinese can't get at home.