“IT WAS an amazing golden age,” reflects Guillaume Brochard of Qeelin, a Chinese jeweller. From 2007 to 2011 many luxury-goods firms enjoyed double-digit annual growth in China, which became their most important market. The first blows came last year, with an economic slowdown and jitters about the political transition. Now, a crackdown on corrupt gift-giving and a populist backlash against ostentation have added to the woes.
The outlook for luxury-goods firms appears to have dimmed. Internet users have posted incriminating pictures, for example of poorly paid bureaucrats wearing suspiciously pricey watches, which have caused heads to roll. Mobs have also disrupted banquets deemed to be too lavish, on occasions forcing officials to their knees to beg for forgiveness.