Curtain falls for Matsuzakaya after 23 years

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 01 September, 1998, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 01 September, 1998, 12:00am

Matsuzakaya department store closed its doors last night, becoming the latest in a string of Japanese shops to fall victim to the retail slump.

The closure drew 23 years of business in Hong Kong to a close, leaving 155 workers jobless.

Staff tried to keep up flagging spirits, with some taking photos of each other at the Causeway Bay building.

'A few people have found jobs, but many others have not. They are worried, but there's nothing they can do. Some sales ladies said they would go back to being a housewife,' said an employee called Ms Cheung.

Employees were too busy working in the final days to look for another job, said store security worker Lam Koon-bo.

'It's hard to find another job in this economy. We just have to take it one day at a time,' said the 55-year-old Mr Lam, who said his children were not old enough to support themselves.

'But wherever there's work, I'll do it.' The store has enjoyed brisk sales in the past few days as shoppers flooded the building to snap up bargains.

Regular customer Kitty Ding said: 'After this store closes, there will be less choice for customers.' She bought two purses for $500 on Sunday and another two yesterday, declaring the prices 'very good'. Some were half price.

A Store spokesman said most of the products had been sold in the clearance sale and any remaining goods would be donated to local charities.

Staff were given severance payments in the afternoon and some received extra compensation for long-term or outstanding service, the spokesman said.

The store announced closure plans in March, blaming weak consumer spending.

It follows the Yaohan retail chain, whose closure late last year resulted in 2,700 people losing jobs.

Another Japanese department store, Daimaru, recently announced plans to close in December, with the first batch of 400 lay-offs starting next month.