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Selfridges staff get ready to say ‘ni hao’ to their designer-loving Chinese customers

By Emma Davies

Mandarin greetings will welcome Chinese customers to Selfridges after the store recruited tutors to educate their staff on the language and culture of their big-spending Far Eastern customers.

The department store, in Exchange Square, will focus on improving their service towards its valued, high spending Chinese customers.

The Confucius Institute at the University of Manchester is training the staff to greet customers and to ask if they are in need of assistance, familiarising themselves with Chinese shopping habits and customs.

Katherine Popperwell, Events and Marketing Officer at the Confucius Institute, said: “The language training gives staff a grounding in basic language elements, including how to greet customers in Mandarin and ask them if they need help.”

Fashionable overseas students represent a large customer base for luxury and designer goods.

The Manchester store’s general manager, Jane Sharrocks, said the store has seen an increasing number of Chinese visitors, many of whom are students based in and around Manchester.

She said: “We want to ensure they have the best possible shopping experience with us so we are reaching out to them by speaking to them in their own language and respecting their cultural traditions around shopping.”

With Christmas looming, Selfridges are preparing to accommodate the increase in shoppers.

Last year Harrods employed Mandarin-speaking staff after revealing that half of the visitors on the first day of the Christmas sales were Chinese.

China is the top non-EU country for sending 56,990 students to the UK from 2009 – 2010.

The same year, the University of Manchester was the top recruiter of international students in the country, with 9,910,  around 25% of their students.

The UK only received around 127,000 of the estimated three million Chinese visitors to Europe in 2010.

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