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RACHEL BUTT

American direct selling giants are cashing in on the mainland's ageing population, helped by government policies and the explosive growth of the emerging middle-class willing to spend on beauty products.

In On Lan Street in Central, a narrow alleyway that has become home to upscale boutiques, the landlord of a store now occupied by luxury French shoe and bag designer Christian Louboutin initially asked for HK$400,000 a month, but settled for HK$320,000 a month rather than risk losing the tenant.

Department store operator Lifestyle International is taking a cautious approach to its expansion on the mainland in the face of increased competition from online retailers and destination shopping malls there.

Welcome aboard a new mainland shopping experience. Global Harbor Mall, a 480,000 square metre megamall complex resembling a giant aircraft, is the future of shopping malls on the mainland - giant, upscale and themed.

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Sincere is joining a parade of lifestyle retailers and eateries moving upstairs to escape soaring ground-level retail rents.

When she started making XO sauce for family and friends, Patsy Cheong So Ka-wai did not expect it to end up on the shelves of upmarket supermarket chains.

Food scares please nobody, but safety concerns about foodstuffs from the mainland could prove to be a lucrative business opportunity for Hong Kong inspection companies.

Soaring street-level shop rents are hitting Hong Kong's cheap eateries and mass retailers as jewellers and other luxury brands compete for prime space. To survive, many have been forced to extend their opening hours and move to basements or upper floors after being edged out by luxury labels.

Sime Darby Motor Services, a subsidiary of the Malaysian multinational, announced that it will be the exclusive distributor in Hong Kong and Macau for commercial vehicles made by Jianghuai Automobile Co (JAC), a company based in Hefei, Anhui province which produces both trucks and passenger cars.

Promising young writers at this year's book fair will reach out to new audiences - geographically and through new technology. Ten novice authors will be featured in the July 17 to 23 book fair in Wan Chai, the Trade Development Council said.

Hong Kong-owned toy and clothing manufacturers have been abandoning mainland production bases recently but two mainland service industries - beauty and catering - are looking up for Hong Kong operators.

Mainland liquor and cigarette distributor Silver Base will launch cheaper products after reporting a net loss of HK$1.13 billion for the past financial year. The firm reported an 86.9 per cent drop in revenue to HK$390.2 million for the year to March, blaming it on the economic slowdown on the mainland and Beijing's crackdown on corruption.

Moody's Investors Service maintained Macau's credit rating of Aa3 and a stable outlook for the gambling hub's foreign- and local-currency debt. Moody's Investors Service maintained Macau's credit rating of Aa3 and a stable outlook for the gambling hub's foreign- and local-currency debt.

In just a few hours, the world should know more about a mysterious Beijing businessman who turned the global transport world on its ear this month after winning approval to build a US$40 billion canal across Nicaragua, in a direct challenge to the Panama Canal.