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Nature Republic shutters TST flagship

Korean cosmetics retailer Nature Republic has shuttered its Tsim Sha Tsui flagship store – seven months before the end of its lease.

According to a report in the Hong Kong Economic Journal, Nature Republic was paying a monthly rent of $950,000 for the 1640 sqm store which spanned three units in front of The One shopping mall on Granville Rd.

While property industry sources are blaming declining spending by affluent Mainland Chinese tourists for the downturn in retail sales generally, Nature Republic’s move is more likely the result of over ambitious sales targets in Hong Kong, given the store has only been trading since last summer.

While Korean brands are commanding fast growth in Greater China, it is difficult to see how a store of this size with such high rent could be commercially viable in a retail category which is hugely competitive, and dominated by listed chains Sa Sa and Bonjour.

The space is now being offered at a 5.3 per cent discount on the previous rent, according to the HKEJ report.

Centaline Commercial COO Stanley Poon said other retailers had ended leases prematurely after lacklustre Christmas sales – but they’d been paying monthly rentals of up to $300,000, for smaller footprints.

Nature Republic is not the first Korean cosmetics retailer to strike trouble in Hong Kong. Exactly a year ago the local partner of Missha closed all of its 20 stores overnight before the brand returned to the territory in June with a new partner.

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