National

Mitsukoshi pulls out of Hong Kong after 25-year run

Kyodo

The Mitsukoshi department store, the last of four in Hong Kong owned by Japanese, closed its doors Sunday after 25 years of retail operations, marking the end of an era for Japanese megastores.

Mitsukoshi has not decided to withdraw permanently from Hong Kong, which returned to Chinese rule in 1997, as it still hopes to find a new place for its department store, the company’s Hong Kong office said.

But it is letting go its 100 staff members as there is no immediate plan to reopen.

Matsuzakaya, Daimaru, Sogo and Mitsukoshi, all in Causeway Bay, gave the area the name “Little Ginza” or “Little Japan.”

Both Matsuzakaya and Daimaru ended their business and left Hong Kong in 1998, while the Sogo store was sold in 2001 to local property developers who retained the Japanese name.

Mitsukoshi opened business in Hong Kong in 1981, but Philip Cheng, spokesman of the Hong Kong Department Stores and Commercial Staff General Union, which helped the 100 Mitsukoshi staff to secure severance packages, said rising rents and changing tastes have caused department stores such as Mitsukoshi to lose business.

“Property owners raised the rents significantly after the Asian financial crisis, especially in recent years where retailers’ demands outgrew the supply of space,” Cheng said. “Even though some department stores would like to continue their business here, they would have a hard time finding a place with tens of thousands of square feet in area.”