Markor refreshes its retail brand

Newly refurbished store is designed to appeal to a more upscale market by embodying larger trends in luxury merchandising and marketing

TIANJIN, China — Two decades after its entry into furniture retailing, a move made as partner to Ethan Allen, China-based Markor is refreshing its public-facing brand. To highlight the changes, the vertically integrated company has updated and renovated its original store in this city of nearly 16 million people, China’s third largest. 

The Tianjin store first opened in 2002. Since then, Markor has opened 107 additional retail locations throughout China, according to Sihan Zhang, a media planner with the company. She said if the changes at the Tianjin location work, they could be rolled out chain-wide.

In repositioning to appeal to a more upscale market, the newly refurbished store embodies larger trends in luxury merchandising and marketing: prioritizing wellness and sustainability, bespoke design and concierge services, and sophistication of the display of integrated lifestyle looks.

Visitors attend the opening ceremony at Markor’s newly renovated Tianjin store last month.

Also notable are the store’s embrace of contemporary and modern, and its recognition of the increasing role of technology in everyday living.

Mark Feng at Markor’s Ganzhou Digital Smart Techno-Artistic Campus. In the background is the A.R.T. exhibition hall.

The thoroughly modern store is organized into four lifestyles, or collections of looks: 

  • Minimalism (think modern, minimalist, Zen)
  • Light Luxe Fashion (Art Deco meets modern in whites and off-whites)
  • Classics Reimagined (elegant and romantic, with contemporary takes on Chinese traditional)
  • Connoisseur (“lavishly elegant,” more traditional, with darker woods and hues)

The company hosted a grand reopening event at the Tianjin Meijiang store last month that was attended by top executives and special guests, including Markor’s chairman, Mark Feng, and Li Mou, general manager. 

Markor-Ethan Allen

Wang Zhenxing, general manager of the Tianjin and Hebei Province store locations, during the opening last month.

Veterans of the industry might remember that it was Ethan Allen that helped Markor add retail to its already formidable presence in manufacturing in 2001, an alliance brokered by Farooq Kathwari, chairman and CEO at Ethan Allen, and Richard Feng, founder of Markor and Mark Feng’s father. That strategic partnership continues, according to Zhang, with Ethan Allen product appearing in the Classics Reimagined collection.

“Bespoke” is suddenly a buzzword in home furnishings, as signaled by the launch of RH Bespoke Furniture and RH Couture Upholstery late last year. In fact, while manifesting their strategies in very different ways, both RH and Markor appear to be using similar playbooks. 

New to Markor starting with Tianjin Meijiang is a one-stop, all-inclusive bespoke design and furnishings division for China’s fast-growing upper class. According to a McKinsey report, China already is the largest consumer economy, and it is expected to add more consumption over the next decade than any other country or market. 

Markor is using the new bespoke service to connect Chinese consumers with the company’s “global network of exceptional designers,” a network able to tap into Markor’s global supply chain of case goods, upholstery and occasional furniture. By controlling this supply chain from design to manufacturing to delivery, the company hopes to “spearhead the evolution of the domestic mid- to high-end home furnishings consumer market and [redefine] the bespoke” sector in China, according to Zhang. 


The front of the newly renovated Markor store that re-opened in Tianjin last month.

Using the hyphenated “techno-artistic” to describe its approach to turnkey design and retail, Markor is emphasizing the technology deployed throughout its ecosystem in service to a unified aesthetic. Richard Feng set the tone, emphasizing efficiencies in production and distribution. Mark Feng has continued that emphasis, and Markor Tianjin offers stunning evidence in the “immersive artistic spaces” that are the various showroom areas.

The store’s bedding zone or area, the Dream-Making Zone, for example, is meant to be “a visually pleasing and serene environment that fosters a restful, good night’s sleep,” according to Zhang. The specialized area displays a “tranquil ambience” and sleep space “ideal for rejuvenation.”

Also new in the store is an interactive youth furnishings zone designed to encourage parents to engage with their children. The rooms take different themes, such as space travel and animals.

If the emerging playbook for marketing to affluent consumers asks furniture retailers to be arbiters of taste, sense-makers of technology, media companies, concierges to the unique needs and wants of each and every customer, and even restaurateurs, like RH in the United States and Europe, then Markor is an ideal case study for Asia. 

For example, Markor has long offered lifestyle magazines online that highlight its whole house of products, available at And new in the Tianjin flagship is an afternoon tea café that serves up oolong or jasmine tea in a techno-savvy, artful setting not coincidentally representative of the new Markor aesthetic. 

Tea ceremonies are important in Chinese culture, evidenced by the ubiquity of teahouses. There is a tea museum in Hangzhou and an annual tea expo in Shanghai.

Digital smart campus

Markor’s new Digital Smart Techno-Artistic Campus complex in Ganzhou Nankang.

Just prior to the Tianjin reopening, Markor unveiled what it is calling an “artistic home experience space,” the Digital Smart Techno-Artistic Campus, in Ganzhou Nankang, one of China’s largest furniture manufacturing districts. 

Unveiled as part of the China Furniture Industry Expo last month, the complex’s opening was attended by, among others, Simon Lichtenberg, Trayton Group founder and CEO of Simon Li Furniture; Jonathan Sowter, founder and CEO of Jonathan Charles; Gary Zeng, founder of GID Greyron International Design and Rongshe; and Doug Rozenboom, president of A.R.T. Furniture and Jonathan Charles, two of Markor’s U.S. divisions.

Mark Feng envisions Markor’s new campus to become a sort of Silicon Valley for the home furnishings sector in China, an incubator for software and hardware infrastructure that “enables peers to access cutting-edge, future-oriented technology and art services,” according to a press release issued prior to the expo. 

The facility is intended to highlight Markor’s “intelligent manufacturing capabilities,” including a high-tech green workshop, and its use of robotics. Themes of the educational facility include sustainable urban development, livability, social harmony and urban governance. 

The architectural design of the campus features a canyon-shaped entrance, a transparent glass façade and a grand glass ceiling. By making such a statement architecturally as well as aesthetically, the new campus is reminiscent of the Markor Arts Center, the company’s 187,000-square-foot showroom building in High Point that opened in 2019 after two years of development.

“I want to change the perception about the industry through the Markor Arts Center that the furniture industry can be highly innovative,” Richard Feng, also an interior designer and an artist, said at the time.” Publicly traded on the Shanghai Stock Exchange, Markor International Home Furnishings is parent to Jonathan Charles, Caracole, Rowe and A.R.T. Furniture. The company has retail locations in Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin, Hangzhou and Suzhou. Net operating income last year was approximately $620 million (4.5 billion RMB).

Brian Carroll

Brian Carroll covered the international home furnishings industry for 15 years as a reporter, editor and photographer. He chairs the Department of Communication at Berry College in Northwest Georgia, where he has been a professor since 2003.

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