OP Mall’s occupancy rate stands at about 80 per cent. Photo: May Tse
CK Asset Holdings, Hong Kong's second-largest property developer, said on Tuesday its malls had been unaffected by the city's anti-government protests and that the planned opening of a four-storey shopping centre in Tsuen Wan would proceed as planned.
OP Mall, located above Tsuen Wan West MTR station, began a trial phase in August and will officially open in the second or third quarter.
"Despite the social movement, many tenants have gone on to open their stores here, and that is a sign of their confidence in the mall," said Justin Chiu, executive director of CK Asset Holdings. A number of shops had already opened at the 430,000 sq ft mall, he added.
Long queues formed on Tuesday afternoon at the shopping centre's anchor tenant, Japanese discount chain Don Don Donki, which opened its 50,000 sq ft store in December.
"It is only a weekday, but you can see people are constantly buying things at the cashier. There have been long queues ever since it opened on December 12," said Resina Wong, director of Cheung Kong Real Estate, CK Asset's property investment unit.
More expensive items, such as Japanese fruits and whisky, were most popular, suggesting that consumers in Hong Kong were still willing to spend, she added. "If you live in Tsuen Wan, you can walk here without taking any transport, so we are not too worried about the impact of the social movement," Wong said.
The new mall's occupancy rate was about 80 per cent, with rents ranging from HK$50 to HK$200 per square foot. "There will be some challenges for the retail sector in the coming year, but all our shopping malls have been stable and we remain optimistic," Wong said.
Hong Kong's retail sector has taken a beating, with sales plunging by 23.6 per cent year on year in November, the second largest drop on record, according to the latest data available. Tourism and consumption activities have been severely affected by the increasingly violent anti-government protests.
Consumer spending dropped to HK$30 billion (US$3.84 billion) in November after a record 24.4 per cent year-on-year slump in October, according to the Census and Statistics Department. For the first 11 months, the year-on-year decline was 10.3 per cent.
The developer is founded by Li Ka-shing, Hong Kong's richest man. The new mall will have 5G network coverage, a first for the developer's shopping malls, thanks to Hutchison Telecommunications Hong Kong, which is also owned by Li through his flagship, CK Hutchison Holdings.
The developer owns another 15 shopping centres. "We will also roll out 5G network coverage to the rest of our shopping malls, properties and hotels in the future," said CK Asset Holdings' Chiu. "We believe 5G will make things more convenient for our customers. Hong Kong has always been known for its efficiency."
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