Date
20 September 2017
Fabio De Rosa, president of the Italian Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong and Macau, said the Occupy movement is harming the business sector. Photo: Bloomberg, LinkedIn
Fabio De Rosa, president of the Italian Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong and Macau, said the Occupy movement is harming the business sector. Photo: Bloomberg, LinkedIn

Occupy could lead to layoffs, chamber chief warns

Some firms in Hong Kong may reduce their investments and lay off workers if the Occupy movement continues, the head of an association of foreign businesses warns.

In the retail industry, sales in the fourth quarter usually account for 30 percent to 35 percent of full-year sales, Fabio De Rosa, president of the Italian Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong and Macau, told the Hong Kong Economic Journal in an interview.

If the Occupy movement continues into the Christmas holidays, it will have a big impact on the retail industry, which accounts for 10 percent to 15 percent of the labor force, De Rosa said.

As many as 10 percent of workers in the industry could lose their jobs, he said.

The Italian chamber has about 260 members, most of whom are in the retail and logistics industries. Some are located in Central and Admiralty, near the main protest site.

De Rosa said a good number of members have experienced a halving of pedestrian traffic, and their sales have fallen by 30 percent to 40 percent. Besides the banks, almost all the others have been affected by the street blockades, he said.

He cited one business with nine outlets in Hong Kong that plans to reduce the number to six. 

But he said that the protests will not deter firms that do not operate a business in Hong Kong but want to use the city merely as a stepping stone to break into the mainland market.

However, if the protest continues, those that already have a business in Hong Kong will take a prudent approach when they prepare the budget for the coming year. They may not be willing to spend the same amount on rent for their existing properties when leases expire in one or two years, and property prices may drop, he said.

Italian enterprises employ about 4,500 staff in Hong Kong.

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