Korean cosmetics firm Missha suddenly closes Hong Kong outlets
Analysts say Missha may be a victim of fierce competition as all 20 stores in HK remain closed
Korean cosmetic brand Missha has suddenly suspended business at all of its outlets in Hong Kong, despite the wave of enthusiasm for Korean products that has swept the city in recent years.
The company operates 20 outlets across the city, including two standalone stores in Wan Chai and Mong Kok. Yesterday, a notice was posted at its store at Queensway Plaza in Admiralty saying: "Missha is not available to serve you and we apologise for any inconvenience caused". A notice in Kornhill Plaza, Quarry Bay, said the store was "under construction".
Local newspaper Apple Daily reported that an employee of the Tsuen Kam Centre store, Tsuen Wan, received a WhatsApp message from a head-office colleague at about noon, saying: "The boss is gone. Everyone can leave."
The last message posted on the brand's Facebook page was on December 31, promoting its Christmas gift packages, a line that ended on January 1.
Some analysts said Missha fell victim to tough competition as a new wave of South Korean brands, such as Etude House and Nature Republic, opened in the city in the past two years.
"The newcomers offer a greater variety of products for younger shoppers at more prime locations, which has fuelled competition," said Joe Lin, an executive director of property consultant CBRE's retail services in Hong Kong. "South Korean cosmetics brands can become popular rapidly and easily, but that popularity can fade fast too.
"It is more a victim to fierce competition than high rents."
In a statement last night, the Labour Department said some Missha staff had sought its help yesterday, without elaborating. It would prosecute the company if it was found to be in breach of the Employment Ordinance, it said.
The Post attempted to contact all of the company's outlets in Hong Kong, but there was no answer at any of them. There was also no one available to comment at Missha's head office.
A spokesman for a shopping mall in the New Territories said that the mall's management did not realise the Missha counter was out of business until the news broke yesterday afternoon.
Missha was founded in South Korea in 2000 and opened its first stores in Hong Kong in 2004. As well as the standalone stores, it also had many counters in shopping malls in the New Territories, including Sha Tin, Tuen Mun, Yuen Long and Tseung Kwan O.
Last year, Hong Kong overtook Japan to become the second-largest export market for Korean cosmetics, with the city's shoppers buying US$213 million worth of imported products in the first eight months of 2014.