|about 100+ french folks immigrating to tiny little hong kong every month|
front-running the americans and the british and germans who shall no doubt seek same salvation soon enough, and
three hong kong neighborhoods are showing positive change as the new immigrants set up shops and services
the french international school is choked
the property club has three units leased to french folks willing to pay rather substantial rent in order to engage w/ salvation
the trend is noticed by even a wastrel nyt so must be well advanced and quite obvious
... about astutely agile people voting w/ feet and electing salvation
French Expatriates Flocking to Hong KongHONG KONG — Gregory Joinau-Baronnet arrived in Hong Kong about a year ago with little more than a couple of suitcases and a desire to make a living in the wine business.
In France, Mr. Joinau-Baronnet had been a real estate agent specialized in selling wine-related property like vineyards. But business ground to a halt as the global financial crisis took hold in 2008. By late 2010, Mr. Joinau-Baronnet had had enough.
In January last year, he got on a plane to a place he knew was booming: Hong Kong, which is now attracting immigrants from France faster than its does from the United States, Britain or Germany.
“I needed to move,” said Mr. Joinau-Baronnet, 31, who has set up Jetson Trading, a small business that sells high-end wines and mineral water from his native Bordeaux. Guillaume Fortin, another Frenchman who arrived last year, joined him as sales manager.
As luxury companies storm Asia to soak up its rising wealth and sate a voracious appetite for their goods, a flood of French expats is arriving along with them, catering to the Asian nouveau riche with a savoir faire that is changing the face of the traditionally Anglo- Saxon communities in Hong Kong and Singapore. (Both cities are favored destinations for their functioning legal systems and access to hinterland markets in mainland China and Southeast Asia.)
The flow of Westerners who flock to Asia in search of jobs, business opportunities or a little Asian spice for the résumé has picked up in the past few years, said James Carss, a senior executive at the recruitment firm Hudson in Hong Kong. And the French now lead that charge.
The French community in Hong Kong has grown more than 60 percent since 2006, and now numbers more than 10,000, according to the French consulate in the city. In Singapore, it has approximately doubled to more than 9,200 during the same period.
There are also sizeable French groupings in mainland China, Bangkok and southern India that also have expanded rapidly.
At least part of this growth has occurred because French companies associated with luxury, fine dining, wines, banking and other industries want French nationals on their local teams.
The sheer size of the United States, and Hong Kong’s traditional ties to Britain, mean that there are still about 10 times as many Americans and many more Britons than French in the city, which is a special administrative region of China. But the number of American and British residents is rising only slowly: it has increased less than 10 percent since late 2006. The German community has stayed more or less flat.
The French influx can be heard, seen and felt all over the city. Walk through the bar districts or high-end shopping malls of Hong Kong, and it is likely you will encounter passers-by speaking French — much more likely than it would have been two or three years ago. The French international school is bursting. French-run restaurants have multiplied.
Pastis, a small restaurant in the Central district of Hong Kong, has been a favored hangout for French expats since it opened in late 2009. At least two more French restaurants have opened in just the past few months. There is even a cafe with three dusty courts for boules, a lawn game popular in France, incongruously tucked away in a basement on Hong Kong island.
Hong Kong’s appeal to shoppers from neighboring China, who benefit from the city’s lower taxes on many goods, makes Hong Kong a key location for anyone catering to Chinese consumers. It has also helped ensure that the French community in Hong Kong is one of the largest in Asia.
“Asia in general, and China in particular, is booming,” said Arnaud Barthélémy, the consul general of France in Hong Kong. French “companies derive their growth from this region,” he said, noting that many have subsidiaries or regional headquarters in the city.
Fanny Duguet is a case in point. She moved here with her husband and two young children last August, dispatched by her employer Richemont, the luxury goods giant, to help with the company’s expansion in the region.
In a more independent vein, Edouard Malingue, a 38-year-old art dealer from Paris, decided Hong Kong offered better prospects than Europe or America for a new art gallery.
Mr. Malingue moved to Hong Kong in September 2009 and opened his gallery in the financial district a year later. Like other entrepreneurs, he was attracted by the lack of red tape and the relative ease of setting up a business.
Hong Kong is not without its challenges, however. Retailers have to work harder than in Europe or the United States to cultivate tastes and habits among customers who may not know the products or lifestyle they represent.
In Hong Kong, Mr. Malingue noted, “there is not as much of a culture of visiting galleries as there is in Europe. It takes a lot more effort to grab peoples’ attention.” Despite the challenges, Mr. Malingue said, the gallery is now doing well.
Competition in many sectors, meanwhile, is fierce, as businesses rush to get in on the action. Salaries, if not augmented by increasingly rare benefits for expats, do not meet many Westerners’ expectations. Both local and foreign employers generally prefer people with experience in Asia and language skills to match, said Mr. Carss, the recruitment executive.
In addition, commercial and residential rents are sky-high. Mr. Joinau-Baronnet, for example, is about to open a shop in the Tsim Sha Tsui neighborhood of Hong Kong. The rent on the small space he had to settle for is four times what a comparable space would cost in his native Bordeaux, and twice as much as in Paris, he said.
But he is undeterred. In addition to his new location in Hong Kong, he is considering a second store in Shenzhen or Guangzhou, just across the Chinese border, next year.