Manila becomes home to the world’s largest IKEA store

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The world’s largest IKEA store has just been newly opened in the Philippines capital, Manila.

Presiding over the opening event of the 730,000 square foot facility were the Philippine Foreign Minister Teodoro Locsin, and Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez. 

The facility includes a two-story store, a showroom, a warehouse, an ecommerce complex, a dining space, and a call center.

The new store is one of 60 new outlets that IKEA is planning to open worldwide in the current financial year. 

The Manila store was originally expected to open last year but faced delays due to Covid. Even now, Covid-19 measures are still being observed with customers required to ensure they adhere to social distancing protocols and wear masks until rules are relaxed. 

Store manager, Georg Platzer, was quoted as saying, “It was always a plan to come to the Philippines,” adding, “It’s a very good growing economy, growing middle class and domestic environment that’s good for us as a home furnishing retailer. I think it’s about time to open it, finally.”

Vietnam’s stock market hits an all time high after bumper run

Vietnam’s stock market index, the VNI, stormed up to record highs and breached the closely watched 1,500 points milestone for the first time ever. 

The rise comes on the back of a bumper year for stocks, with the index rising 35.5 per cent, outpacing markets in Asia and even beating benchmarks like the US S&P500 and the UK’s FTSE 100. 

An analyst at VNDirect Securities was quoted as saying, “In June, given the Covid-19 situation, the rosiest scenario we could think of is a year-on-year gain of 30% for the VN Index in 2021, targeting 1,500 level by year end.”

Retail investors helped to push the index to record highs, with approximately 1.1 million new stock trading accounts being opened so far in 2021.

An analyst with PetroVietnam Securities Inc was quoted as saying, “Due to the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic, the economy’s capability to absorb investment funds has declined significantly, and therefore investors have chosen to put their money in the stock markets,” adding, 

“Investors will wait until at least the pandemic to be under control to withdraw funds from the stock markets for their other investment options.”

Hong Kong’s Cathay Pacific to reduce inbound passenger flights

Cathay Pacific is to start cutting back on both short and long haul passenger flights to Hong Kong during December and over the New Year holiday period.

The reasons behind the cutbacks are not only lower passenger demand, but also staff shortages and operating restrictions.

Outbound flights will remain as normal with around 620 passenger flights expected to take off during December.

The difference between the numbers of incoming and outgoing flights will be made by converting about a third of incoming passenger flights to be mostly cargo arrivals. 

This will help to alleviate the problems of “closed loop operations” where aircrews on less-than-glamorous 3 week shifts need to remain in their hotel rooms between flights and also quarantine for 14 days every time they return to Hong Kong. 

A company spokeswoman was quoted as saying, “Operational and travel restrictions that remain in place continue to constrain our ability to operate flights,” adding, “We are consolidating our passenger flight schedules for December 2021, including cancelling a number of flights to Hong Kong.”