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Burberry joins Prada, La Perla in exiting Hong Kong’s Russell Street, once the world’s most expensive retail rental strip

The British fashion brand has maintained a presence on Russell Street since 2012, occupying 5,200 sq ft of space in Soundwill Plaza

Burberry will be moving to a new location in World Trade Centre shopping centre, according to local media

British luxury fashion house Burberry will shut its flagship store on Hong Kong’s Russell Street, once the world’s most expensive shopping strip, after a 10-year lease expires early next year, according to sources.

The iconic brand, known for its trademark check pattern, has maintained a presence in the Causeway Bay shopping district since 2012, occupying 5,200 square feet of space across two levels at Soundwill Plaza. It initially paid HK$7.7 million (US$988,000) per month, which was later increased to HK$8.6 million in 2015 amid the retail boom, sources said.

“With no mainland tourists, international brands are finding it hard to repeat sales achieved three years ago,” property agent said. “Now, retailers have ample choice as there are so many empty spaces on Russell Street and nearby areas that are being offered at cheaper rents.”

The agent said that the landlord, Soundwill Holdings, had cut the rent for the existing lease due to expire early next year, but was unsure of the current rate.

Soundwill declined to comment, while Burberry did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

It has been reported in the local media that Burberry will move to the nearby World Trade Centre shopping centre on Gloucester Road, a nine-minute walk from Russell Street.

Burberry will be the third major international brand to close its flagship store on Russell Street. The Italian fashion label Prada started the trend, shutting its 15,000 sq ft outlet in June 2020, followed by lingerie maker La Perla three months later in September.

Hong Kong’s retail sector is struggling to recover from its worst downturn on record. Many international brands such as Topshop, Gap and Victoria’s Secret have closed their operations in the city after they were hit by the anti-government protests in 2019 and later by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Burberry, however, said early this month that it would continue to build its new concept stores across the world.

“We have no intention to significantly reduce the footprint of our stores,” Julie Brown, chief operating and financial officer, said during a media call on November 11 to discuss the half-year earnings.

Burberry’s revenue in the six months to September 25 rose 45 per cent year on year to £1.2 billion (US$1.6 billion), returning to pre-pandemic levels on the back of strong growth in mainland China, South Korea and the US. Adjusted operating profit increased nearly four times in the same period to £196 million.

Brown conceded that online shopping had accelerated because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Burberry has always been one of the biggest innovators in digital, and we continue to put a lot of emphasis on digital channels,” she said. “That being said, since stores have reopened, we have found that consumers still value the luxury experience in a physical store.”

This means that the key to success is an omnichannel approach, which provides a seamless experience for consumers, whether they shop in-store or online, she said.

“We think omnichannel is really the way to create a truly luxury experience with personalised service, while at the same time allowing us to focus on local consumers in our key markets,” she said.

(South China Morning Post)

For more information of Office for Lease in Soundwill Plaza please visit: Office for Lease in Soundwill Plaza

For more information of Office for Lease in World Trade Centre please visit: Office for Lease in World Trade Centre

For more information of Grade A Office for Lease in Causeway Bay please visit: Grade A Office for Lease in Causeway Bay


Kwok Family’s Empire Group bets on Hong Kong’s border reopening to spur tourism demand for its HK$6 billion five-star hotel Kimpton

Construction of The Kimpton, a HK$6 billion five-star hotel project, has reached 10th storey of the 42-storey structure

Family-owned Empire Group has also joined partners in building the Greenwich Village mall in Tseung Kwan O South and the Fullerton Ocean Park hotel

Empire Group Holdings, founded by the late Hong Kong tycoon Walter Kwok Ping-sheung, is pushing on with its HK$6 billion (US$770 million) luxury hotel project in Tsim Sha Tsui, betting that tourism in the city will rebound from one of its worst patches on record.

The Kimpton, a 42-storey five-star hotel built on the former Mariners’s Club, will offer 492 rooms with harbour views at its opening in the second half of 2023. Construction has reached the 10th floor, fully making up for delays over the past two years by the city’s social unrest and material supply bottlenecks during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The plan will allow the family-owned developer to benefit from an expected recovery in the industry amid tentative signs of border reopening and room demand.

The local pandemic situation “is gradually settling,” said director Jonathan Kwok, a son of Walter Kwok. “Hopefully by the end of 2022, I think the border should be [fully] reopened.”

While the city has maintained its strict quarantine requirements for inbound visitors, local residents would be allowed to enter mainland China without quarantine starting from early December, the South China Morning Post reported last week.

Average hotel occupancy jumped to 60 per cent in the first nine months this year, versus 43 per cent in the same period in 2020, according to the Hong Kong Tourism Board, due to quarantine demand, long-stay incentives and staycation business. Visitor arrivals slumped 98.2 per cent to 63,000.

The Mariners’ Club is a blue-and-white building that was opened in 1967 by the city’s former colonial-era Governor David Trench. It sits on a parcel of land next to the K11 Musea mall, a New World Development project in the Tsim Sha Tsui shopping district.

Empire Group’s other projects include a HK$1 billion shopping centre called Greenwich Village in Tseung Kwan O South. The mall, covering 100,000 square feet (929 square metres) and 90 per cent tenanted, is a venture with Lai Sun Group which opened for business earlier this month.

The 425-room Fullerton Ocean Park, Empire Group’s venture with Sino Land, is expected to open in the first half of next year. The luxury hotel is located next to the Water World of the Ocean Park.

While the group’s focus is on operating hotels, it would like to retain the flexibility of offering serviced apartments or co-living space in its property, director Lesley Kwok said.

“Now the demand for staycation in Hong Kong is really great,” she added. “We will try to cater to the business with more packages.”

Property agency is optimistic about Hong Kong hotels’ average room rate and occupancy growth in the year ahead. Over the next couple of years, room supply could increase by 2.5 per cent, it said. It grew by 3.6 per cent annually over the past decade.

The industry dynamics have improved as new supply dwindled over the past two years when the building cycle that started in 2016 came to an end, hastened by the street protests of 2019 and the Covid-19 outbreak.

“In 2020, there were almost no new hotel openings because some developers opted to slow their construction or delay the opening of their properties to wait for market conditions to improve,” agent said. New additions were also offset by hotel conversion or closures, the agency firm said.

Those that have closed or are planning to close include the Excelsior, Novotel Nathan Road and the Harbour Plaza Resort City in Tin Shui Wai. Other properties are getting delayed or may be redesigned for different uses, which could also keep a lid on new supply in the years ahead, the agency added.

Walter Kwok, who founded Empire Group in 2010, passed away in October 2018 at 68. He was the former chairman and chief executive of Sun Hung Kai Properties before his ouster from the city’s biggest developer following a family squabble.

(South China Morning Post)

























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