Hong Kong cosmetics retailer Sa Sa closes 21 outlets in the city and Macau amid coronavirus outbreak

Zhang Shidong

Sa Sa International Holdings, Hong Kong’s biggest cosmetics retailer, has shut 21 stores in the city and Macau as part of cost-saving measures, as the coronavirus outbreak deters shoppers and travellers alike.

The 21 outlets closed include six in Kowloon, eight in the New Territories and three in Macau, Sa Sa said in a press release on Monday. The closure will affect about 8 per cent of the retailer’s total number of outlets.

The announcement followed a move by Sa Sa last week asking its executive directors to take a 75 per cent pay cut for three months to save on costs. Sales at the retailer slumped 78 per cent in the first week of the Lunar New Year holiday. At its stores in Macau, sales tumbled 77 per cent, as the outbreak kept mainland tourists at home.

“The group will undertake flexible staff deployment based on business demand, arranging for employees in the affected stores to work in other ones,” Sa Sa said in the statement. “Meanwhile, the group will take different shifts to reduce the number of staff on duty and cut costs.”

The outbreak, which originated in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, is aggravating the plight of many of Hong Kong’s industries. The anti-government protests, which started in the summer last year as protests against the now-withdrawn extradition bill, plunged the city’s economy into a technical recession, hurting sectors ranging from retail and catering to transport and even finance.

Sa Sa International to close up to 25 per cent of stores in 18 months

Hong Kong’s retail sales plunged 11 per cent from a year earlier to HK$431.2 billion (US$55.2 billion) last year, their steepest decline since 1998, amid the US-China trade war and the protests. They fell 24 per cent in the final three months of 2019, their worst quarter on record, as the unrest intensified.

Shares of Sa Sa have retreated 15 per cent this year, underperforming a 3.4 per cent loss on the Hang Seng Index.

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