18 February 2019
Page One once boasted 10 stores in the territory, but only two are currently operating. Photo: Discover Hong Kong
Page One once boasted 10 stores in the territory, but only two are currently operating. Photo: Discover Hong Kong

Page One suppliers file claims as missed payments mount

Bookstore chain Page One is said to owe its suppliers millions of dollars in payments and could face liquidation if it fails to pay them, news website reports.

At least four companies, including Elm Books, have filed claims with the Small Claims Tribunal against the company since the beginning of this month.

An Elm Books representative said Page One has missed payments for a long time and it could be related to the fact that it has stopped selling controversial books banned in the mainland.

Foreign Press, which has been supplying around 200 magazine titles, including Time and The Economist, to Page One, is said to have offered an installment plan for the bookstore operator to settle a seven-digit obligation. 

Page One, however, reportedly has not responded.

As a result, Foreign Press has stopped the supply of magazines and is considering legal action against it.

Page One was founded by Singaporean Mark Tan in 1983 and moved into the Hong Kong market in 1997.

The bookstore, which primarily offers English-language books, international magazine titles as well as arts and design-related publications, became an instant hit with the middle class and professionals.

Page One once boasted 10 stores in Hong Kong, but only two are currently operating, while stores in Singapore and Taiwan have also closed.

In 2010, the company expanded into mainland China and now has four stores in Beijing and one each in Hangzhou and Chengdu.

Page One used to operate six bookstores at the Hong Kong International Airport, with political books that are banned in the mainland among its hot-selling items.

Many mainland tourists would buy copies of the banned books and take them home across the border. 

The company stopped selling such books following reports about the missing booksellers last October.

Since the Airport Authority decided to cut down on the number of bookstores at the airport, Page One has also closed its airport operations.

Pang Chi-ming, director of Subculture Press, which publishes books considered sensitive in the mainland, said the industry has heard about the company’s delayed payments over the past two years, Apple Daily reported.

Apart from soaring shop rents, Pang said Page One might also be struggling amid slumping sales of English-language books, art books, and other premium hard-cover publications. 

Page One suddenly pulls books banned by Beijing off shelves (Jan. 6, 2016)

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