– UK Economy “Boomerang’d” As Russians Shun $719 Bottles Of Cristal (ZeroHedge, July 11, 2014):
The UK had feared whiplash from sanctions on Russian oligarchs but this ‘boomerang’ is too much to bear… As Bloomberg reports, “We’re seeing a lot less Russian surnames on the booking sheet,” at London’s Mahiki, a Polynesian-themed nightclub in upmarket Mayfair where a bottle of Cristal Champagne goes for $719 – and Russian customers are being supplanted by revelers from countries including China and Nigeria. “The Russian market was like a Champagne fountain,” notes on ereveler, “The money was coming into the top and flowing down…” but not so much anymore…
As Bloomberg reports, to gauge London’s place in the global economy, you could examine World Bank statistics, canvass investors and analyze trade volumes. Or you could visit Mahiki, a Polynesian-themed nightclub in upmarket Mayfair where a bottle of Cristal Champagne goes for $719 — and Russian customers are being supplanted by revelers from countries including China and Nigeria.
“We’re seeing a lot less Russian surnames on the booking sheet,” said Michael Evans, the creative director of the club, where the likes of Rihanna and Prince Harry have been spotted after dark. “It’s very easy to see what’s going on in the world from the markets we attract.”
In another sign of the slowdown, retail spending by Russian visitors to the U.K. between January and May declined 22 percent from a year earlier, according to Global Blue, which runs tax-rebate services. Chinese spending climbed 8 percent in the same period.
It all changed when the sanctions hit…
A few years ago, Russians’ orders for customized Ferraris or Lamborghinis “with your own leather, gilt-edged instrument dials, personalized with your initials, with tailor-made Louis Vuitton (MC) luggage” to match, were a mainstay for dealers, said Simon Empson, managing director of London luxury car broker Broadspeed Ltd.
One customer spent 150,000 pounds customizing a 70,000-pound Range Rover. Another was sent an order form for options on a BMW.
“He faxed it back blank except for writing ‘Give me everything,’” with an American Express number appended below, Empson said. “The sanctions have ended that business”
And while non-Chinese are stepping in to fill the void… there’s still a gap…
Even in large numbers, Londoners shouldn’t expect new arrivals from China to fully assume the role that wealthy Russians have held in the city’s economy, cautions Peter Wetherell, CEO of real-estate agency Wetherell. For the most part, he said, they aren’t spending enough to become players in storied districts like Kensington and Knightsbridge, choosing instead to stick to less-prestigious zones on the fringes of the central city.
* * *
So UK pops its Champagne bubble as China pops the US real estate bubble.