Victor Li urges government to boost land, flat supplies as property prices show no signs of slowing down
Victor Li Tzar-kuoi, the new chairman of CK Hutchison Holdings and CK Asset Holdings, who recently took over from his father and Hong Kong’s richest man Li Ka-shing, on Thursday urged the government to boost house and land supplies as a long-term strategy even as property prices continued to rise for the 25th straight month in the city.
CK Asset Holdings is one of the largest listed developers in Hong Kong.
“Houses are for living besides investment,” said Li at the opening of A S Watson Group’s new retail concept store CKC18, his first public appearance as chairman since taking over the reins.
Li said that although there is no crystal ball to predict the trend of Hong Kong’s property prices because house “supplies are currently still at a low level, the property market will remain bullish.”
Li’s statement came after the government’s data on Thursday showed that Hong Kong’s home prices have risen for 25 straight months, the longest stretch for a property bull market in a quarter century, making the city the world’s costliest urban centre to live and work in.
An index of secondary market home prices climbed 1.84 per cent to 375.9 in April, according to data released by the Rating and Valuation Department.
Li said that the opening of CKC18, which is at Cheung Kong Center, the headquarters of the group, has been warmly welcomed by office goers for offering convenient dining and shopping options.
The store, spread over 26,000 square feet, consists of four sections – food, alcohol, beauty care and tech products.
The innovative retail store, supporting electronic payments and unmanned checkout counters, is another move by A S Watson, the retail unit of Li’s flagship conglomerate CK Hutchison, to embrace new technologies in the face of fierce competition from online stores.
For example, customers can checkout by placing their shopping baskets on checkout counters that automatically scan and tally up the total. Customers can also use an augmented reality-enabled app to try different make-up services.
“We will test the response [of CKC18] and will open more [such stores] if customers like this feature,”said Dominic Lai, group managing director of A S Watson Group. “To make stores stand out, we have accelerated digital transformation and have introduced the latest retail technologies to provide the best shopping experience.”
Currently more than 180 Watsons stores and 60 ParknShop, the group’s supermarket chain, have self-check out counters.
“We hope to implement self-check out counters in all our stores as soon as possible,” said Lai.
With over 14,000 stores in 24 markets, mainly in Asia and Europe, Watsons says it records four billion store visits a year, selling 30 million items per day worldwide. It plans to open 1,300 new stores around the world this year or one every seven hours.
In addition to health and beauty shops, A S Watson operates supermarkets, food and wine, and electronics retail chains.