LVMH to shut store amid HK protests: report

HONG KONG (AFP) – Luxury brand Louis Vuitton is closing a major store in a high-end Hong Kong shopping centre often targetted by democracy protesters, local media reported.

The international retailer plans to shut its shop in the financial hub’s Times Square mall after its landlord, Wharf Real Estate Investment Corporation, refused to lower the rent, according to the South China Morning Post’s report on Friday.

The store in the commercial heartland of Causeway Bay – one of the brand’s eight shopfronts in the city – occupies 10,000 square feet of prime second-floor space in the mall.

Monthly rent reportedly costs an estimated HKD5 million (USD642,000) according to industry consultants.

Louis Vuitton Hong Kong, Times Square and Wharf have not responded to enquiries from AFP. The news of the potential closure came after the Hong Kong government released its latest retail sales figures, posting its 10th consecutive monthly drop in November 2019 and striking a year-on-year decline of over 23 per cent. Jewellery, watches, clocks and luxury gifts formed the most seriously hit category, with a year-on-year plunge of 43.5 per cent.

The government blamed violent protests for disrupting tourism and affected consumption sentiments. The Times Square mall has been a popular target of ‘Shop With You’ rallies when protesters would gather to chant slogans and march, hoping to force shops to close down and impose economic pressure on the government.

In the third quarter last year, LVMH, the parent group of Louis Vuitton, reported a better-than-expected overall performance but a sales revenue drop of 25 per cent in Hong Kong.

Luxury brands in Hong Kong have been relying heavily on a large influx of mainland Chinese tourists, which on the other hand has been a problem complained by local residents for years.

A Louis Vuitton store in Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong. PHOTO: BLOOMBERG