Hong Kong retail landscape is characterized by a huge turnover, as rents go up, shops close to leave space to other tenants with a higher negotiation power. In the F&B industry, restaurants are very likely to keep their location if belonging to well established groups.
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In recent years, Hong Kong has seen restaurants mushrooming under the umbrella group of two young entrepreneurs Christopher Mark and Syed Asim Hussain, who started their adventure to add new restaurant concepts to the already highly diversified city offer, based on their experience in hospitality and business development, along with a zest for travel and discovering dining subcultures.
Retail in Asia has met Christopher Mark from Black Sheep Restaurants. We have asked Christopher to share with us some insights from the F&B industry, and the way he creates new restaurant concepts that are able to engage Hong Kong food lovers.
RiA : Black Sheep Restaurants is growing very fast. Few outlets coming soon, and very diversified food experience. What’s the profile of your customers?
Christopher : Our guests tend to be well travelled sophisticated consumers with an even split between HK locals and expats.
RiA : How do you pick your concepts to make sure they will succeed?
Christopher : We have given up picking concepts that we think will succeed, we choose concepts we are passionate about and we do not jump on trends. We have learned to trust our instincts and not to try to be all things to all people. In our experience the ‘safe’ concepts have not always been the most successful, the bolder, riskier concepts have ultimately been the projects that have surprised us the most in the way guests have responded to them.
RiA : Have you seen any specific trends characterizing F&B industry in the recent years?
Christopher : There are more and more Asian restaurants opening in Hong Kong at the moment which tend to happen when the economy is not great as you can often offer more value when your concept is not tied to imported ingredients.
RiA : What are the challenges for the F&B industry in Hong Kong?
Christopher : The biggest challenge is that the typical Hong Kong consumer has a thirst for new things, everyone wants to try the latest opening but keeping guests coming back when you could eat at a different restaurant every night of the year if you wanted to here, that’s the hard part.
RiA : What’s next for Black Sheep Restaurants?
Christopher : Our first Kowloon restaurant opened in December 2017, which is a whole new market for us and our seventeenth venue, we will also hopefully be announcing our first international opening in 2018.
Black Sheep Restaurants, founded in 2012, is a celebrated Hong Kong-based hospitality group that specializes in developing niche, thought-provoking restaurant concepts that add to the existing culinary dialogue.
Black Sheep Restaurants curates distinct dining experiences that tell a story about a particular time, place, culture or cuisine while celebrating the bounty of premium ingredients available both locally and from abroad.
The group currently boasts a portfolio of 17 venues, among Retail in Asia’s favourite spots: Buenos Aires Polo Club, Carbone, Le Garçon Saigon, Maison Libanaise, Motorino (SoHo and Wan Chai), Le Petit Saigon, and the newly opened New Punjab Club and Osteria Marzia.