Growing Brighter – The Bold New Spirit of Hong Kong’s Fresh Markets, is a new book published by Link Asset Management Limited (Link), the manager of Link Real Estate Investment Trust (Link REIT, Hong Kong stock code: 823), to celebrate the 15th anniversary of Link REIT’s listing. The book illustrates the vital role that fresh markets play in Hong Kong cuisine and culture – with its strong emphasis on freshness and community, and how the markets have been creatively adapted to suit the needs of modern shoppers while retaining the essence of the heritage.
While charting the origins of Hong Kong’s first street market in the 1700s in the New Territories town, Tai Po; to the maze of lanes that make up the market that has been in operation for at least 170 years around Graham Street in Central, the book explores the rich history and importance of fresh markets in the city. It is impossible to imagine Hong Kong without Cantonese cuisine, and Cantonese cuisine would simply not be possible without the fresh produce, fresh meat, live chicken and live seafood supplied by the city’s food markets.
Fresh markets are a cornerstone of Hong Kong life and culture. They also represent an important segment in Link’s portfolio, underlining its mission to serve people’s daily needs. The book offers a fresh take on the renewal and reinvention of traditions undertaken by Link at about 40 out of its 53 fresh markets across the city over the past decade.
“This was not simply a matter of renovating the existing market buildings. To truly succeed, we had to rethink the entire idea of what a market should be. We took inspiration from the best elements of traditional Hong Kong markets, and the most successful fresh markets overseas. We found out which stall designs worked best for vendors, and how better visibility and more intuitive layout could improve the experience for shoppers. This was a trailblazing project. In many ways, we broke new ground by introducing ideas and innovations that had never been implemented before,” Link Chief Executive Officer George Hongchoy said.
"Our key aim is to see Hong Kong’s traditional market experience evolving into one more attuned to modern need – by offering greater convenience, hygiene and a sense of community. These all help to ensure a more pleasant shopping environment and contribute to a more prosperous and sustainable business hub in the community,” Link Chairman Nicholas Allen said. “We continue to contribute to our communities by evolving the local fresh market culture and enhancing our customers’ shopping experiences to deliver our vision: Link people to a brighter future.”
The book was published in English language and its contents are available in English, traditional and simplified Chinese languages on the website.
What others say about Link’s fresh markets
“If you run a good business, you are benefiting the community. Your first corporate social responsibility is to make a profit; that is it. So the social benefit of these markets was based on creating value. If those markets are successful, it means local people are shopping. It means the tenants in those markets are making a profit, because they’re making sales.”
Nicholas Sallnow-Smith, Former Chairman of Link
“How do we entice people to shop at a new Link market as opposed to a supermarket? It’s a no-brainer. It’s just a much nicer place to shop, with a much higher quality product, at a much lower price. It’s a much nicer place to shop because it’s got a community, because you can meet people. You’re not just shopping, you’re enjoying life.”
Keith Griffiths, Founder and Chairman of the architectural practice Aedas
and an Non-Executive Director of Link
“The main differences we see between Asian markets and European markets is in the way some forms of retail are conducted. For example, the butcher’s stand in Hong Kong is outside-in, and the trade takes place between the butcher and the customer on the public side of the counter. This, in my view, is really interesting and makes a lot of sense – the customer and the trader are equal and they are viewing the sale from the same position.”
Ken Greig, a founder of Greig & Stephenson Architects,
the architect of the revamped Borough Market in London and Tai Yuen Market in Hong Kong
“The most important thing in the business of fresh markets is for everything to be fresh and to have a variety. So our concept, when we revitalise an old market, is to first raise the percentage of fresh produce and increase the number of stalls so customers have greater choice.”
Jackie Ling, CEO of Uni-China, an operator of some of Link’s fresh markets
“It makes me happy to see how the market has improved bit by bit after the revitalisation. In the past, running the business was a struggle. Now it’s much easier….The business passes from the grandfather to the father, and then the son. There are a lot of 3rd generation stall owners here.”
Ma Lai-mei, a cha chaan teng tenant at Lok Fu Market
“Link invested a lot of resources into rejuvenating Tai Yuen Market, transforming it into a modern, air-conditioned market. The tenants were all motivated by the revitalisation. Everyone who worked in the stalls felt more at ease working in the air-conditioned market. Customers could enjoy their meals and shopping.”
Chu Chun-por,a cooked food stall tenant at Tai Yuen Market
“Our mission is ‘waste not, hunger not, with love’. We want to promote the idea that we should cherish food, and we want to promote a stronger sense of caring for the needy in our community. We know that Link is also very concerned about sustainability, in terms of how we are going to make the best use of the recycled food, and they are also very caring about the needy in Hong Kong. And so we are very grateful that Link has invited us to run this food recycling programme since 2016.”
Zoe Lee, Associate CEO of Food Angel, an NGO supported by Link
High resolution photos are available for downloading at this link.
Link Real Estate Investment Trust (Hong Kong stock code: 823), managed by Link Asset Management Limited, is a leading retail-focused REIT in the world. Listed in 2005 as the first REIT in Hong Kong, Link has been 100% held by public and institutional investors and is a Hang Seng Index constituent stock. From its home in Hong Kong, Link manages a diversified portfolio including retail facilities, car parks and offices spanning Hong Kong, Beijing, Guangzhou, Shanghai, Shenzhen, London and Sydney. Link seeks to extend its portfolio growth trajectory and grasp expansion opportunities in different markets in pursuit of our medium-term target Vision 2025. For details, please visit https://www.linkreit.com/.