22 Mar 2015

International Project for Public Spaces Conference in Barcelona

Hong Kong listed blue chip, The Link Real Estate Investment Trust (“The Link”), is set to be recognised at the international Project for Public Spaces Conference held this week in Barcelona, Spain. The Link was recently honoured with The Gold Award at the 2014 World Union of Wholesale Markets (WUWM) Market Awards for its Tin Shui fresh market refurbishment. Attended by over 400 delegates from 40 countries, this annual conference ranks as a premier platform for the industry to share and learn latest innovations and practices when working with public spaces.

The Link’s team of senior fresh market managers led by the CEO and the market management team and operators will be attending to share their experiences in Tin Shui and the Lok Fu fresh markets renovation.  They will discuss with delegates the thinking and working approach that focuses on The Link’s sustainability goals when renovating its markets.  The Link introduces innovative ideas at early planning stages to enhance the market’s shopping and hygienic environment. Renovations include improvement of overall layout, designing for barrier-free access, installation of air conditioning and enhancement of the drainage systems throughout while keeping an open and attractive ambiance. Technology plays a key role with provision of electronic scales and payment methods.  To engage customers, market ambassadors, customer reward services and cooking demonstrations are offered to enrich the shopping experience.

During renovations, The Link maintained close communication with the local community and existing tenants to keep them informed, minimise their inconvenience and even provided temporary stalls during the refurbishment process when needed.

Following the conference, The Link team will visit fresh markets across the UK and Europe to gain first-hand experience in the building and management of fresh markets.  This serves as an important learning opportunity for the company’s scheduled enhancement projects for ten of its local Hong Kong fresh markets.

The Link owns and manages over 80 fresh markets in Hong Kong. Since 2010, George Hongchoy, the Chief Executive Officer of The Link has been leading study tours with his team of colleagues and operators who are in the fresh market business to visit other countries, including Japan, Britain, Hungary, Spain, France, Italy and USA.

Using it broader expertise in property enhancement and management, the company has transformed traditional local markets into vibrant and attractive centres where a wider mix of society chooses to shop.  After remodelling, the Lok Fu fresh market for example, increased traffic by 20%, attracting a substantial patronage increase 60% from the younger generation. The Lok Fu fresh market received the 2014 Hong Kong Awards for Industries: Customer Service Grand Award from the Chief Executive of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government C.Y. Leung.

The Link’s fresh market strategy goes beyond just remodelling and renovation. To capture the imagination and potential shoppers of the future, The Link, in collaboration the Hong Kong Design Institute created a platform for the younger generation to learn about traditional market culture. Participating the Market’s Interior Design Competition in 2014, students made use of their design knowledge to revitalize traditional markets. They were also invited to try running traditional market businesses in a new and innovative ways that would adapt the traditional market culture to modern Hong Kong lifestyles.

The Link is also forward thinking in regards to Hong Kong’s environmental sustainability. To address the city’s food waste issue, The Link has collaborated with NGO World Green Organisation since 2013 to promote food waste recycling in their fresh markets.  Together they are transforming potential food waste to food for the needy by collecting and distributing edible food donated by market stall tenants at the end of each day.

The same approach and thinking to creating sustainable fresh markets applies to the company’s current efforts in transforming the traditional markets of Tai Yuen, Oi Man, Lok Fu, Tin Shui and H.A.N.D.S in Tuen Mun. The Link brings the latest in global best practices to build and manage the modern and attractive food centres where the local community prefers to shop.

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