Hannah White - Hong Kong Rotation

Having never been to Hong Kong before, I imagined it to be a densely packed urbanised and intense cityscape. I was not wrong, however juxtaposing this are a vast array of remote islands and beautiful scenery that also forms part of Hong Kong. This unique environment has provided me with an amazing first month of shopping, eating and drinking, beaching, hiking and junk boats!

When I arrived I was greeted by Hen, who had previously spent time out here in the team. She was instrumental in helping me settle in at work and gave me some great advice. In my first week the team took me for a contemporary Cantonese lunch comprising of 1,000-year-old eggs, fried fish skin, chicken feet and whole roasted pigeon… it is safe to say life as a veggie in Hong Kong is tricky. Furthermore, adapting to a commute in 35 degrees and 90% humidity has been challenging (mainly for my hair), however the MTR air-con is far better than the Central Line so I can't complain!

It has been fascinating to move from the Central London Retail team into the retail leasing team here and draw parallels between the two markets. The difference in the retail landscape is apparent in the way people shop, the nature of brands, the life of a retailer, the landlord and retailer relationship and the real estate market mechanisms. It has been particularly interesting drawing on my previous exposure to retail in London and identifying potential brands that could integrate from London into Hong Kong's contrasting retail market and vice-versa.

The retail market outlook here is positive and sentiment reflects recovery from a period of poor performance following a number of geopolitical and economic events in recent years.  It is clear that a level of readjustment in rental levels has materialised and allowed for improved diversity in the retail trade mix. Luxury brands still dominate the market however aspirational luxury, streetwear, F&B brands and experience focused retailers have gained a new foothold as a result of this readjustment.  The contrast in shopping mall and street level retail, is an interesting characteristic of the Hong Kong market. Having had no exposure to retail leasing within malls in London, this has provided me a valuable new understanding of retail.

The team here is very impressive in their knowledge of the market and the relationships they have with both brands and landlords. My role has been varied and multiple members of the team have involved me in the instructions they are working on.

I have assisted in producing consultancy documents advising on the retail components of enormous mixed-use schemes. Additionally, I have been involved in compiling information to produce strategic reports advising retailers on the performance of their portfolio of stores and opportunities for growth and expansion. Day to day the majority of my time here has been spent advising retailers in their search for new premises, providing them with options for expansion and representing them throughout negotiations with landlords. Furthermore, I have also worked on the other side of transactions, assisting in the leasing of large new shopping mall projects such as OP Mall in the New Territories and Middle Road in Kowloon.

I am extremely grateful to have been given this opportunity and would encourage others to work abroad, especially in Hong Kong, it is a one of a kind experience!