Date
22 October 2019
Anti-government protesters throw items at New Town Plaza in Sha Tin on Sunday. Photo: Reuters
Anti-government protesters throw items at New Town Plaza in Sha Tin on Sunday. Photo: Reuters

Maxim’s finds itself on protesters’ ‘hit list’

Anti-government activists appear to have escalated their protest, targetting not only police and MTR stations but also mainland businesses and commercial establishments deemed supportive of the administration in the ongoing political turmoil.

New Town Plaza in Sha Tin witnessed this new trend on Sunday as hundreds of protesters descended on the shopping mall and put stickers on “enemy” establishments, making them fair game for all sorts mischief and mayhem.

At Jade Garden and Chiuchow Garden restaurants, both owned by Maxim’s Group, protesters played havoc with the seat reservation machines, printing out hundreds of tickets which they turned into buntings stretching from the eighth floor to the atrium on the third floor of the mall.

“Maxim’s, evil!” and other angry chants reverberated throughout the commercial center in the afternoon.

The protesters were not happy with Annie Wu Suk-ching, daughter of the late Maxim’s Group founder James Wu Tak. She recently spoke at the United Nations Human Rights Council, defending the government in the extradition bill debacle.

Other outlets under Maxim’s Group, which is 50-50 owned by the Wu family and Dairy Farm International Holdings, were also targeted. They included Starbucks and Simplylife.

This is certainly not good news for Maxim’s, which has nearly 1,300 outlets in Hong Kong and Macau, and also owns Genki Sushi, The Cheesecake Factory and Shake Shack.

These, together with its cake shops and Chinese restaurants, make Maxim’s the biggest restaurant group in the city.

Last year was a bumper year for Maxim’s, when sales rose 16 percent to US$2.6 billion, while profit surged 13 percent to US$107 million, according to Dairy Farm’s annual report. 

Maxim’s accounted for 9 percent of the sales of Jardine Matheson’s food arm.

Meanwhile, the protesters’ “hit list” also included mainland smartphone maker Huawei as well as Best Mart 360 store, whose owner is from Fujian. It will be recalled that stick-wielding men, said to be natives of Fujian, clashed with anti-government protesters in North Point two Sundays ago.

The two firms’ outlets at New Town Plaza were forced to close early on Sunday.

Even New Town Plaza’s landlord Sun Hung Kai Properties had seen damages to its properties,  including V Walk in Sham Shui Po, after its staff allegedly allowed police to enter the Sha Tin mall to disperse and arrest protesters back in June.

Malls operated by MTR Corp. were also targeted on Sunday, with protesters filling shops but “window shopping only” or dumping goods on the cashier with no intention of buying them. 

The radicals, of course, did not let the weekend pass without paying a visit to their favorite targets, the MTR stations, which suffered another round of vandalism. But what’s amazing is that the rail operator managed again to fix all the broken ticket machines and other facilities to enable the stations to open the very next day.

Another weekend in Hong Kong.

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CG

EJ Insight writer