Hong Kong-headquartered Luk Fook group has followed its archrival Chow Tai Fook in revealing plans to shutter stores in the territory’s tourist areas – but it sees growth opportunities in Macau.
“The group will reduce the number of shops in areas which are considerably impacted by the social incidents in Hong Kong, and search for opportunities for opening new shops in Macau market,” chairman Wai Sheung Wong advised shareholders in a stock exchange filing.
However, unlike Chow Tai Fook, which plans to close about 15 stores in Hong Kong when leases come up for renewal from this coming April, Luk Fook still expects to achieve a net gain of three stores this financial year in Hong Kong and Macau.
“Rental renewal depends very much on whether profit is expected for the relevant shop under new rental,” said Wong. “A single-digit drop in the rental renewal is predicted for the current financial year and a double-digit drop for the next financial year.”
The continuing impact of strong gold price, US-China trade war and social incidents in
Hong Kong on market sentiment, saw same-store sales for the jeweller fall by 25 per cent during the December quarter. Same-store sales of gold products fell by 20 per cent and of gem-set jewellery by 32 per cent.
On a positive note, the overall decline eased when compared to the previous quarter. Sales in Hong Kong and on the mainland fell by a lower rate than in the September quarter, while the Macau market returned to growth since October. Sales in Hong Kong and Macau fell by 27 per cent, which the group attributed to a high gold price and a “substantial decline” in the number of visitors to Hong Kong contributed by the recent ongoing social activities.
In the first two weeks of January, the same-store sales decline gradually narrowed in Hong Kong and there was continued growth momentum in Macau.
Luk Fook has responded to falling sales by reducing staff, however this has been achieved by natural turnover without the need for a redundancy scheme.
As of December 31, the group had 1969 Lukfook shops, 45 Goldstyle shops, three Dear Q stores and three 3D-Gold shops operating on the mainland – 2020 in all.
“Apart from actively seeking expansion opportunities in Macau, the group will also speed up expansion in Mainland, with target of at least 300 net shop additions there for the 2020 financial year, most of which would be licensed shops at low-tier cities,” said Wong.