Store adds traditional Chinese characters to tags and brochures after complaints

Luxury goods outlet operator responds to customer complaints over use of simplified Chinese geared to mainlanders at its new store in Causeway Bay

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 16 August, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 16 August, 2012, 9:23am

Global luxury goods chain DFS Galleria has decided to add traditional Chinese characters to its price tags and brochures - following the latest controversy over shops' use of simplified Chinese.

DFS, which launched an outlet called T Galleria at the newly opened Hysan Place in Causeway Bay, mainly used simplified Chinese and English in their advertisements, tags and brochures at its make-up and designer watch counters.

Some Hong Kong customers who visited the store at the weekend were unhappy with the language policy, saying it was more convenient for mainland shoppers.

Denise Chi Hiu-tung, 25, who was hoping to buy Clinique products, said she was offended when she saw the simplified Chinese characters at T Galleria. She left the shop and promised not to return.

"Why do the interests of mainland tourists rob the dignity and culture of Hong Kong people?" she said.

In response to an e-mail enquiry from the South China Morning Post, Benjamin Vuchot, managing director of North Asia for DFS Group, said it used multiple languages at stores based on the customer profiles at each location.

After assessing the demographic of shoppers on the opening weekend, he said, DFS decided to implement "a number of changes" at the Hysan shop, including the use of traditional Chinese characters. It plans to extend the policy to its shop at Chek Lap Kok airport in December.

Aside from T Galleria, two DFS outlets in Tsim Sha Tsui also used simplified Chinese. Vuchot said "changes would be made as needed" to suit customers' needs at its Kowloon locations.

In contrast to Shiseido, Clarins and Estée Lauder counters at T Galleria, the brands' counterparts at Lane Crawford in Times Square have labels and signs in traditional Chinese and English. DFS stores worldwide carry other brands such as Chanel, Bulgari, Armani and Prada.

A spokeswoman for Hysan Development, which built the new Causeway Bay mall, said the ground floor and B1 floor were rented out to DFS, and Hysan did not instruct tenants on what language to use in labelling or signs.

DFS is the latest in a string of shops criticised for using simplified Chinese exclusively. Earlier this year, clothing brand Giordano and Agnes b. café bowed to public pressure and adopted traditional Chinese characters on promotional materials and menus respectively.

Cultural critic Chin Wan said DFS had not learned a lesson from these incidents.

He said many Hongkongers hated simplified Chinese because it was developed by the Communist Party and did not reflect the historical characters used for many generations.

He added: "We should not let the mainlanders think [these stores] are catering just to them. This would only encourage their arrogance and rudeness to shopkeepers."

However, another critic, Beijing-based Bono Lee Chiu-hing, said most mainlanders in fact knew a bit of traditional Chinese and would not mind reading them in tourist destinations such as Hong Kong.

"For them, there is some kind of exoticness to shop in a traditional Chinese environment … especially when it comes to shopping in Hong Kong. What they are looking for is uniqueness, not similarity," he said.