New World expects policies to help stores
New World Department Store China chairman Henry Cheng Kar-shun said he was optimistic about the mainland's retail sector in the coming year, following pledges from Beijing that it would boost domestic consumption and urbanisation.
Speaking at the company's annual general meeting, Cheng said he was optimistic that sales would increase over Christmas although it was too early to say what the figures would be, but a recovery was definitely under way.
Commenting on the three-day central economic work conference in Beijing, which ended Monday, Cheng said the retail sector would receive a boost from government plans to stimulate domestic demand and urbanisation, and Hong Kong's retail sector would also benefit from an increase in mainland tourists.
Executive director Adrian Cheng Chi-kong said he believed that Hong Kong's latest figures for private consumption expenditure were normal and showed confidence had returned to the city's retail sector.
The company, which owns 33 stores across 17 mainland cities, says it plans to open two new stores in Shanghai and one in Beijing, totalling more than 400,000 square feet, in the coming six months.
NWS Holdings, the infrastructure and service arm of New World Development, also held its annual general meeting yesterday, announcing it would gradually pull out of the Middle East, where it is involved in two construction projects through subsidiary Hip Hing Construction in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
Henry Cheng, who also chairs NWS, stressed that the decision was not related to concerns over Dubai World but said NWS's involvement in the region was so small that it no longer made economic sense to have interests there. Cheng said the firm would continue to hold on to its 9 per cent stake in Taifook Securities and use the HK$1.82 billion it received from the sale of a 52.9 per cent stake to boost working capital.