Hong Kong-based chain store operator Best Mart 360 is pushing ahead with its expansion plans in the country's Greater Bay Area and Macau despite the massive setbacks to its operations caused by the months of civil unrest and the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. The company announced the opening of its third store in Macau over the weekend, one of as many as 20 outlets it plans to open in the Asian gambling hub.
The company's chairman and co-founder, Lin Tsz-Fung, mentioned in an interview that they will continue to open more stores in Macau. Best Mart 360 opened its first store in Macau back in December of last year, followed by the opening of its second store in June this year.
Lin revealed during the interview that the company will be moving forward with its expansion plans in the Greater Bay Area. The snack shop chain is reportedly "testing the waters" in the Guangdong region, where it will likely be putting up its first mainland stores.
Lin explained that the company is still having trouble setting up its operations in the mainland given the standing border restrictions. However, once those restrictions are lifting the Hong Kong-listed company plans to go full steam ahead with its mainland expansion.
Best Mart 360's renewed focus on expanding its operations outside of Hong Kong comes after a massive decline in its net profits in the previous quarters. For its fiscal year ending in March, the company reported net profits of around HK$12.1 million or roughly $1.5 million. This was a 79.7 percent decline when compared to its net profits in the previous year.
In its annual report published late last week, Best Mart 360 attributed the decline in profits to the months-long civil unrest in the city. The company's stores were particularly targeted by protesters, who were accusing Best Mart 360 of having links to the Fujian gangs, who had clashed with demonstrators back in August. The company has repeatedly denied the allegations against it.
During the protests, almost all of the company's 103 stores in Hong Kong were damaged. Despite the continued threat of civil unrest, Best Mart 360 has chosen to continue operating 72 out of its 103 damaged stores.
Lin stated in the company's annual report that its prospects in Hong Kong continue to be bleak for the short-term given the spread of the coronavirus and the possible re-ignition of civil unrest. For this reason, the company is likely looking to expand into other Chinese cities, where it hopes to take a chunk of the market share from local competitors.