Luxury jeweller Tiffany closed its shop in Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong, as the city's retail sector was being battered by protests

By Lam Ka-sing and Sandy Li / | April 6, 2020 10:21 AM SGT
Tiffany & Co, one of the world's leading jewellers, has quietly closed its shop in Canton Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, one of the most expensive shopping locations in Hong Kong.
The luxury jewellery retailer, founded in the US, said it shut its 4,000 square-foot store at 1881 Heritage, converted from the former Marine Marriage Police Headquarters, at the end of last year. It still has 11 shops in Hong Kong.
"The company did not renew the leasing contract after it expired," said a spokesman for CK Asset Holdings, which owns the premises.
Tiffany joins a list of big names that have closed shops in Hong Kong in recent months. Retailers were first hit by months of violent anti-government protests, and are now struggling amid the Covid-19 outbreak that has infected more than 680 people and killed four in Hong Kong. On Sunday the government banned gatherings of more than four people to curb the spread of the virus.
Tiffany said in a statement on Tuesday that the closure was "part of the store network strategy surrounding the nearby expansion and relocation of the Tiffany & Co. flagship store at One Peking Road."
It was not related to the coronavirus outbreak, which had only just started to emerge in mainland China at that time, the statement said.
The closure came as Hong Kong's retail sales, battered by a steep drop in mainland tourists attributed to the coronavirus, plunged by 21.4 per cent year on year in January, with the government warning of dire repercussions to the overall economy.
Swiss luxury watch brand Omega reportedly closed four shops and laid off about 20 people, Longines has shut five stores, while Rado and Mido also closed outlets in mid March.
Swatch Group, which owns the four brands, told the Post "selective brands have decided to close stores based on natural lease expiry, or have adapted their business operations hours or temporarily closed due to the evolution of the situation.
"As Hong Kong is living through an unprecedented economic cataclysm, Swatch Group brands have taken several measures. The reasons? Recession, lack of tourists in Hong Kong over the past nine months and now reduced travel due to the Covid-19 situation.
"At the same time, we are facing the inflexibility of the Hong Kong obtuse landlords: some of them remain not aware of the difficult situation and maintain their rentals as if nothing has happened."
Luca Solca, Bernstein's senior research analyst for luxury goods, said the retail market outlook remains uncertain.
"The late January sudden stop in China, now seemingly recovering, and the lockdown in the rest of the world in March are weighing heavy. Progression in the second quarter this year remains most uncertain, as there is no visibility on the duration of the current anti-pandemic measures."
Sales of luxury goods in Greater China have ground to a halt and the lack of travelling Chinese is holding back sales in Asia and in Europe where more than 35 per cent of sales are dependent on Chinese nationals.
"Our 1881 Heritage store on Canton Road closed at the end of 2019 as part of the store network strategy surrounding the nearby expansion and relocation of the Tiffany & Co. flagship store at One Peking Road. The long planned store closure on Canton Road was unrelated to the impacts of COVID-19. "
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