The heads of several international luxury brands have dismissed the idea that pro-democracy protests in the city have damaged Hong Kong’s status as a world-class retail destination.
“We are here to reinvigorate the confidence in Hong Kong,” Fendi chief executive Pietro Beccari said at the opening of its Landmark flagship store yesterday. “My view on doing business in Hong Kong has not changed and this store in particular is dedicated to locals.
“I think the scale of the images the first week impacted the business but now the traffic is much better. I think there is good traffic today – I was in Canton Road [where Fendi has a store]. We are here to open a store because our confidence in Hong Kong hasn’t changed.”
There is no clear end in sight for protesters who have now been out on the streets for nearly a month blockading roads at prime shopping districts Causeway Bay and Mong Kok.
Beccari’s bullishness is in stark contrast to earlier reports, including from Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah, that the protests had damaged the economy. A senior economist at ANZ Banking Group estimated the protests had cost retailers HK$2.2 billion, representing 6 per cent of monthly retail sales.
Hong Kong, which typically makes up a tenth of total worldwide sales for high-end labels, is a favourite destination for mainland tourists, who love to do their shopping here.
The opening of Fendi’s multifloored boutique tails fellow Italian luxury brand Versace’s flagship store launch in Harbour City last Friday and a visit from its chief executive Gian Giancomo Ferraris.
Just a few days before that, Burberry chief financial officer Carol Fairweather said the purveyor of £1,200 (HK$15,000) trench coats has a wide network of stores that customers could visit even if some stores are affected by the protests.
“We’ve got 17 stores in Hong Kong … clearly Hong Kong is very important to us,” Fairweather said.
Although she did not comment on numbers for this month, she noted that Hong Kong sales up until September grew at double digits. The student sit-in began on September 29.
Read more at SCMP.