Hong Kong catering group Maxim’s opens landmark store in response to business appetite

He said there had been a 50 to 60 per cent recovery in tourist traffic.

Siu said that since many Hongkongers were travelling to mainland China after the border reopening, stores near the borders in Tuen Mun, Yuen Long and Sheung Shui had suffered, with business recovery in those areas lagging behind other places.

Almost 600,000 people left the city on Saturday via air, land and sea control points as of 9pm, Immigration Department data showed, with 70,842 departures via the airport. Some 337,898 people arrived in Hong Kong.
Keith Siu Tak-wai, Maxim’s Group chief operating officer. HANDOUT PHOTO

About 1.04 million people left Hong Kong on Friday and Saturday via all border crossings.

Despite a slower than expected recovery, Maxim’s is confident about Hong Kong’s catering business.

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“After all, we are familiar with our customers and we have our own specialities,” Siu said.

He said in the post-pandemic era, the catering sector had seen a change in consumption trends. Patrons were increasingly willing to try new dishes, with many posting pictures on social media.

“It’s very different from what we’ve had before, and that is why we have to do a better job in product development and introducing new concepts,” he said.

Siu said Maxim’s had introduced new brands during Covid-19, including a solo Japanese barbecue brand, Yakiniku Like, with personal roasters for people to consume meals at their own pace.

“Solo barbecue is a very popular concept among young people and middle-aged families,” he said. “We tend to offer different options that cater to different needs, and hence the changes.”

In a reflection of the changes in consumption patterns, fewer people were going out at night, Siu said.

Maxim’s had extended its “tea time” hours at some of its stores in response to the pickup in business between 5pm and 6pm, with some patrons treating it as an early dinner.

“It’s going to take some time to study spending patterns in the post-Covid era,” Siu said.

Although the current expansion had benefited from reductions in rental costs, which are down around 30 per cent from their peak, the overall business operating environment continued to be challenging, the COO said.

“We will remain cautious even after a rent reduction, because without business, you’re not making money. We all have to be careful with our management,” Siu said.

Since its establishment in 1956, Maxim’s has been developing its own F&B and retail brands in Hong Kong. It has been introducing global brands since 2000.

To date, the group manages nearly 80 brands, providing its customers with a diverse dining experience across mainland China, Macau, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, the Philippines, and other regions.

The best performer was Thailand, where despite tourism recovery falling short of expectations, spending remained strong. Maxim’s has 500 stores in Thailand, according to the group.

While consumption in the mainland China market had seen a strong uptick at the start of this year, turnover dropped after the summer holidays due to a soft economy, according to Siu.

More than 30 million people are expected to visit Hong Kong this year, attracted by the city’s festivities during the Christmas season but this is less than half the number logged in the record-setting year of 2018.

Hong Kong’s Tourism Board unveiled the forecast in November, based on 26.78 million tourists who came to the city in the first 10 months of the year after the government’s decision to ditch pandemic travel restrictions in January.

“I hope our business can pick up from where we were before Covid, but we really do not see any special incentives,” Siu said. “But we do know that if the tourists do come back and if they are spending a little bit more, the whole sector will be a lot better off.”

He said he expected business to improve during Christmas.

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