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September 16, 2022

A catering trade representative on Thursday warned there may be more closures coming from his sector, after the abrupt folding of bakery chain Crostini this week.

The chain earlier cited the “bad” business environment in Hong Kong over the past two years, saying it had no choice but to immediately close down.

The head of the Federation of Restaurants and Related Trades, Simon Wong, said according to his understanding, landlords last month have asked for outstanding rent from more than half of Hong Kong’s eateries, or around 8,000 of them. That’s after a government scheme that suspended rent payments for three months ended in July.

“Right now, the Covid situation is still very severe. We can’t open our borders yet. Overseas travellers…well basically there aren’t any of them. In this sense, Hong Kong is really like an isolated island,” Wong told RTHK.

“In the past year or so, I believe many residents have less income as the unemployment rate is still high. Can we rely only on local consumption? How can we increase revenue and sustain consumption and retail? It’s really a headache.”

Wong said some 2,000 of eateries are still in discussion with their landlords about rental arrangements, adding they might opt to close if an agreement cannot be reached.

Separately, the Eating Establishment Employees General Union said it’s helping around 30 part-time workers who have not received their salary for this month and last. Permanent staff, meanwhile, have not been paid this month’s wages.

The union said that it estimates the workers are owed around HK$3 million to HK$5 million in payments, including severance pay.

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