17 February 2019
The Kinnet boasts cutting edge gym equipment and facilities including restaurants serving healthy menus. Photo:
The Kinnet boasts cutting edge gym equipment and facilities including restaurants serving healthy menus. Photo:

Wellness center for seniors runs out of steam

A good business concept does not always work in Hong Kong, no matter how powerful the owner is.

Spare a thought for Bernard Chan, convenor of the Executive Council and president of Asia Financial Holdings, which came up with an interesting business idea for the gray-hair market but struggled to make a viable business after three years.

At a press conference on Wednesday, Chan said his company decided to close down The Kinnet, Hong Kong’s first wellness center for healthy aging, on Sept. 5 after reporting consecutive losses.

That was a setback for Chan, 52, whose healthy image made him the most qualified person to chair the Committee on Reduction of Salt and Sugar in Food since 2015.

But Asia Financial said client satisfaction has been high and the company will examine possible ways to meet this market need on a commercial basis. On its website, it hints at creating a better service that would serve a larger community.

In an aging society like Hong Kong, it is disheartening to see that the full fitness and creative learning center where Chan promised to “energize your body, sharpen your mind and elevate your mood” will end up closing because it does not sign up enough members.

Well, for one thing, the center does not sell you a 10-year spa or beauty package, or even hire a young bouncer to distribute flyers.

What it does is provide courses, gym facilities and food that are tailor-made for the elderly. For example, the restaurant serves nutritious gourmet food most suitable for the elderly (low salt and low sugar, of course). Ditto for the design of the gym.

Yes, the monthly membership fee of about HK$2,000 is arguably higher than that of similar outlets but hey, you pay for what you get in Hong Kong.

Trouble is a few times I checked into the place, I did not see many elderly. In fact, I saw more middle-aged people than old people.

There were people spending big money buying supplements than paying for the gym, as Chan once hoped. But they did not join The Kinnet either.

I was also told that the retired elderly are pretty cautious in how they spend their fruit money, and that explains why many gray-haired seniors are so easily lured by pro-establishment offers of “snake soup, vegetarian dishes, festival cake and dumplings”.

Anyway, nice try for Chan. Don’t worry about him — he should find comfort in having bought the premises in an old Sheung Wan building three years ago. The property appreciation should well cover the accumulated losses.

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EJ Insight writer

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