Sanrio to license indoor Hello Kitty theme park in Shanghai
Japanese creator of kawaii character shifting priority to Asian markets
TOKYO -- Sanrio, the Japanese maker of Hello Kitty character goods, is planning to increase licensing for the creation of theme parks in Asia, starting with the opening of an indoor park in Shanghai in 2018 that will be its second in China.
Sanrio will license the use of its Hello Kitty characters to Shimao Group, a major Chinese real estate developer, which plans to open an indoor amusement park in Shanghai in October next year. The construction project is estimated to cost some 200 million yuan ($29.4 million).
Tentatively named Hello Kitty Shanghai Times, the play land will be built within Shanghai Shimao International Plaza, a high-rise complex consisting of a luxury hotel, a shopping mall and other facilities in Shanghai's central district of Huangpu. Shimao Group will foot the entire bill for building the three-story park planned to have a total floor space of 5,500 sq. meters.
Visitors to the park will walk inside and enjoy attractions in a sequential order, although details of the exhibits have yet to be worked out. Some 1 million people are expected to visit the park each year.
Sanrio has licensed the use of its Hello Kitty characters to Hello Kitty Park, a 95,000-sq.-meter outdoor theme park that opened in Anji, Zhejiang Province, in January 2015. The Shanghai park will be its first urban indoor theme park in China.
Sanrio is expanding its licensing business in China. In February, it extended an agreement to license Sanrio characters in the country with KT Licensing for five years to 2021. Sales of Gudetama character goods, in addition to Hello Kitty, got fully underway in mainland China this spring.
Sanrio is struggling with its licensing business in the U.S. and Europe. For example, in the U.S., large retailers such as WalMart and Target have successively closed Hello Kitty-related shops and instead been promoting licensed goods linked to popular movies and private-brand products.
Faced with the tough market environment in the U.S. and Europe, Sanrio is stepping up efforts to capitalize on increasing consumer interest in the value of goods and services in China and other Asian countries. In Vietnam, a Sanrio-related theme park is scheduled to open in Hanoi in 2018.
For fiscal 2017 to March 31, 2018, Sanrio plans to boost sales in Asia, including those from its licensing business and character goods, to 15.7 billion yen ($142 million), up 11.2% from the previous year.