Struggling Hong Kong bars hope lucky draw will provide shot in arm but Lan Kwai Fong’s Allan Zeman urges them to look beyond ‘desperate’ measures

Struggling Hong Kong bars hope lucky draw will provide shot in arm but Lan Kwai Fong’s Allan Zeman urges them to look beyond ‘desperate’ measures

A Hong Kong bar operators’ group has launched a lucky draw with HK$500,000 worth of prizes as part of its efforts to tackle slumping business, but a nightlife magnate has urged industry players to look beyond such “desperate” moves and offer premium services and experiences instead.

Chin Chun-wing, chairman of the Hong Kong Bar and Club Association, on Tuesday evening revealed “rescue measures” aimed at enticing local drinkers after firing its first shot – a lucky draw – on May 1, as the industry’s receipts in the first quarter dropped 17.8 per cent year on year.

“We hope the lucky draw can increase our business by 10 to 20 per cent. We will launch more activities in the future to create a better atmosphere in the bar market and activate consumption,” Chin said.

“We hope we can attract Hongkongers to participate and experience the fun in local bars so they want to stay in Hong Kong and spend their money.”

Chin said 20,000 patrons took part in the first week and it was hoped another 80,000 would be attracted by the end of the lucky draw period on May 31 as many bars had lost customers who preferred to spend their money in mainland China.

Patrons who spend more than HK$300 in any of the 100 bars taking part can join the lucky draw, which has prizes and coupons worth HK$500,000 in total, including a Sony PS5, Nintendo Switch and Apple Watch.

Some of the bars also offer welcome drinks to patrons.

Chin said the association intended to hold more lucky draws in the future, while it would provide more discounts and offers during holidays.

According to government statistics published on Monday, the bar trade performed the worst out of the entire restaurant sector in the first quarter of 2024.

Bars only made HK$273 million in the first three months, a 17.8 per cent drop from the same period last year.

The sector’s business from January to March also dropped 19.7 per cent from the first quarter of 2023.

The entire industry made an estimated HK$28.2 billion, an increase of 2.3 per cent over a year earlier.

But entertainment tycoon Allan Zeman expressed doubts on whether the campaign would make a real difference.

Allan Zeman says businesses need to make an effort. Photo: Edmond So

The Lan Kwai Fong Group chairman said with Hong Kong’s currency pegged to the US dollar, making it significantly more expensive compared with regional neighbours, the local industry should focus on bigger overhauls, to ensure premium services and experiences worth paying for.

“I understand that [the association] is doing it to survive as a desperate move … but it’s not suddenly going to make everybody go out and drive up business,” said Zeman, founder of nightlife district Lan Kwai Fong in Central.

“Why do people go to New York? Why do people go to London or Paris? It’s not because they’re offering 30 per cent off on drinks, right?”

He said he knew of a number of businesses in Lan Kwai Fong that were “doing very well”.

“Those are the ones that are decorated nicely and made efforts to upgrade themselves,” Zeman said.

“It’s not like in the old days where you can just scrape by, there needs to be effort … make it exciting … and unfortunately, not a lot of people have the charisma to do that.”



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