Mandarin Oriental director urges executives to temporarily move out of Hong Kong

The head of luxury hotel group Mandarin Oriental is pushing his executive team to temporarily be based outside Hong Kong, saying the isolated city has become a “very poor” facility due to restrictions. strict restrictions on coronavirus.

A $2.7 billion corporation led by Jardine Matheson, one of the oldest business empireand operates hotels and properties in more than 20 countries. But the post-pandemic recovery of business activity in Hong Kong has been limited by the city’s decision to follow suit Strategy “zero Covid” and severely restrict international travel.

James Riley, the chief executive officer of Mandarin Oriental, who recently returned to Hong Kong after 10 months abroad, told the Financial Times that it is not feasible for his team to stay in the city, where the authorities have closed. doors of schools, gyms, and restaurants after 6 p.m. against the increase in cases.

“Increasingly, most of my key senior executives are currently either on business or outside of Hong Kong. My CEO, who is based in Hong Kong, left 15 months ago. And I have no plans for him to come back because he can’t do anything here,” said Riley, who has lived in Hong Kong for 25 years.

The Mandarin Oriental Hotel in central Hong Kong is a destination for affluent travelers and contributes to the city’s reputation as a leading business hub. International business groups have warned that the Chinese city’s tough pandemic policies, including Hotel quarantine lasts for weeks for incoming passengers, and flight bans to countries such as the UK and US, are undermining Hong Kong’s status as the region’s financial hub.

Global companies are struggling to run operations in their regions without being able to travel, and surveys show many are losing staff in part due to restrictions.

“As a basis for running a business, today is very, very poor,” said Riley, adding that resilience is possible as Hong Kong regains its freedom to go. again.

“When the border is closed, this is a strange place to operate. Because you can’t visit the hotel, visit the client, or visit the potential owner. You can’t go anywhere,” he said.

In the first half of 2021, Mandarin Oriental reduced its loss to $67 million from $102 million in the same period a year earlier. Its Singapore-listed shares have risen 24% over the past 12 months to close at $2.15 on Wednesday.

Riley says the group’s recovery has been strongest outside of Asia since Japan is still closed Almost all travelers and parts of Southeast Asia are just now starting to relax border controls.

Europe and the Americas “returned to activity quite strongly throughout the fourth quarter. So the focus is really on the rest of the world,” he said, adding that the Mandarin Oriental’s beachfront resort in Dubai has become the group’s most profitable property.

He added that unlike Hong Kong, the mainland China market is providing reasonable profits due to high domestic tourism and the group is planning to add five hotels in Hangzhou, Beijing, South Kinh and Shanghai.

Intended group revive sales Located in the former historic Excelsior hotel area, it is being redeveloped into commercial property, built on the first lot sold after Hong Kong became a British colony in 1841.

Mandarin Oriental halted hotel sales at the end of 2017 after bids for the property fell short of expectations and said it would make a $650 million redevelopment of the site instead.

Riley said he expected the sale to happen within the next two to three years, adding that the group was pursuing more property sales. The company is in the process sell its shares in the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in New York for Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries.

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