How to Open a Retail Shop in Hong Kong

How to Open a Retail Shop in Hong Kong

Opening a retail shop in Hong Kong involves careful planning, legal compliance, and efficient execution. Whether you're a local entrepreneur or an international business owner, here's a comprehensive step-by-step guide to help you navigate the process.

Step 1: Business Structure and Name

The first step is to create the legal structure of your company.
Decide, whether it's a sole proprietorship, partnership, or limited company. Here a quick refresh of the difference between these structures:

  • Sole Proprietorship: A business structure where a single individual owns and operates the business. The owner is personally responsible for all business debts and liabilities.

  • Limited Company: A business entity that is legally separate from its owners (shareholders). It limits the liability of the shareholders to the amount they have invested in the company and provides various tax advantages.

  • Partnership: A business structure where two or more individuals or entities join together to manage and operate a business. Partners share the profits, losses, and responsibilities, and their personal assets may be at risk for business debts.

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Once you have decided which structure suits your business best, is time to choose a catchy and appropriate name that reflects your restaurant's identity and adheres to naming regulations.

Remember that the name should be available at the company registry and compel with the local regulations.

Step 2: Licensing

Once you have successfully incorporated the company, now is time to apply for the right license.

Licensing requirements for retail shops vary depending on the nature of goods and services being sold. Examples include:

  • Animal Boarding Establishment Licence issued by the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department: To run a Pets and Accessories retail shop

  • Retailer Licence in Chinese Herbal Medicines issued by the Department of Health: To run a Chinese herbs store

  • Listing Certificate of Class II/III Medical Devices and Certificate of Registration of Premises of an Authorized Seller of Poisons issued by the Department of Health: To operate cosmetics, medicinal, pharmaceutical & drugs stores 

If you are engaging in import or export activities, the need to obtain a specific import/export licence depends upon whether you are dealing with controlled goods or non-controlled goods. Examples of controlled goods include cigarettes and tobacco products, drugs, petrochemicals, animals and food products. If you are trading in controlled goods you will require a relevant import/export licence relating to the goods you are dealing in, issued by the specific governing agency.

Step 3: Staffing

You are almost ready to open your restaurant. Now is time to think about the heart of your business, your staff.

Hire skilled staff members, including sales person and managers, based on your shop’s needs is essential. Here a quick guide in how to properly recruit employees in Hong Kong:

  • Understanding Employment Laws: Begin by familiarizing yourself with Hong Kong's labor laws, including minimum wage, employment contracts, and working hours, to ensure compliance.

  • Recruitment Channels: Utilize various recruitment channels, such as job boards, recruitment agencies, and social networks, to attract a diverse pool of candidates.

  • Work Visas: For non-resident employees, secure the necessary work visas, like the Employment Visa, to ensure legal employment in Hong Kong.

  • Interviewing and Screening: Conduct thorough interviews and background checks to assess candidates' qualifications and suitability for the position.

  • Employment Contracts: Draft clear and comprehensive employment contracts outlining job responsibilities, compensation, and benefits to avoid future disputes.

  • Onboarding Process: Create an effective onboarding process to help new employees acclimate to the company culture and their roles swiftly.

  • Probation Period: Consider a probationary period for new hires to assess their performance and fit within the organization.

  • Employee Benefits: Provide competitive benefits, including Mandatory Provident Fund (MPF) contributions and Employee's Compensation Insurance (ECI), to attract and retain talent.

  • Termination Procedures: Be aware of the legal requirements for terminating employment contracts and follow due process if necessary.

  • Employee Handbook: Develop an employee handbook that outlines company policies, procedures, and expectations.

  • Training and Development: Invest in ongoing training and development programs to enhance employees' skills and job satisfaction.

  • Health and Safety: Ensure a safe and healthy workplace by adhering to occupational safety regulations.

  • Employee Relations: Foster positive employee relations through open communication and addressing concerns promptly.

  • Payroll and Taxes: Properly manage payroll and fulfil tax obligations to avoid legal complications.

  • Legal Consultation: Seek legal counsel or HR experts if needed, especially when dealing with complex labour issues or disputes.

Step 4: Marketing and Launch

Once you are ready to start, is time to develop a marketing strategy that includes digital marketing, social media, promotions, and collaborations to generate buzz.

Developing a marketing strategy for a restaurant in Hong Kong involves:

  • Understanding Your Audience: Identify your target audience, their preferences, and shopping habits.

  • Competitor Analysis: Research local competitors and identify gaps in the market.

  • Unique Selling Proposition: Define what sets your shop apart and craft a compelling message.

  • Online Presence: Create a strong online presence with a user-friendly website and active social media accounts.

  • Localized Marketing: Tailor marketing efforts to Hong Kong's cultural nuances and trends.

  • Promotions: Offer special promotions, discounts, or loyalty programs to attract and retain customers.

  • Customer Reviews: Encourage and manage online reviews to build trust and reputation.

  • Local Partnerships: Collaborate with local influencers, bloggers, or nearby businesses for cross-promotions.

  • Visual Appeal: Invest in high-quality photography and visually appealing design.

  • Feedback Loop: Continuously gather feedback from customers and adapt your strategy accordingly.

Step 5: Operations and Compliance

The last step is ensuring that you can maintain adherence to local regulations, labour laws, and other legal requirements throughout operations. Be compliant is essential to avoid unnecessary penalty or risks.


Opening a retail shop in Hong Kong requires careful planning, attention to detail, and adherence to legal regulations.

Seek our professional advice today, and start your dream store in Hong Kong.

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