Fri, Apr 09, 2010 - Page 2 News List

Shopkeepers accuse Sushi Express of stealing deposits

By Mo Yan-chih  /  STAFF REPORTER

Holding protest placards at Taipei New World Shopping Center, a group of shop owners from the center yesterday accused the former management team of running away with their money, and asked the Taipei City Government for help.

The center, which occupies 16,530m2 on the B2 floor of the Taipei Railway Station and houses more than 50 stores, was under the management of Sushi Express Co, which owns Sushi Express franchised restaurants, until December last year when the group broke its contract with the Taipei City Government.

BROKEN CONTRACT

The company, which won a city government bid in 2005 to manage the center for seven years, broke the contract last year because of mounting financial losses.

The group owes the city government NT$38 million (US$1.2 million) for terminating the contract before 2012, and failed to return a total of NT$6 million in deposits to the shops.

“Some of us opened stores in September last year and Sushi Express Co ended the contract with the city government in December. We are now left with slow business and poor management,” a shop owner surnamed Lee said.

INVESTMENT

Lee said he invested more than NT$100,000 to open his Panda Toy Store last year, and gave the managing company NT$60,000 each month for rent and management fees.

Another shop owner surnamed Hsiao said she gave a deposit of more than NT$200,000 to the company when opening her store, adding that none of the storeowners had received their deposits back.

The city government took over management in January after the company bailed out, and planned to renew contracts with the stores in July.

PROMOTION HELP

Lee and other shop owners protested, saying the city government hasn’t done enough to handle the contract dispute with the company and urged it to step up efforts to organize promotional events to boost business.

Cheng Shiuan-kun (鄭玄恭), a division chief at Taipei City’s Department of Finance, said the city government had hired lawyers to convince the company to return the money.

He said the city government had little experience in managing a shopping mall, adding that it would find a new management team via public bid in July to manage the center and increase business.

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