THE president of the Association of Chinese Entrepreneurs in Andalucía, Leticia Chen, has been cautious about the reopening of businesses and gauges that the Chinese community are being “prudent,” especially the larger companies, in choosing not to open.
However, there are some neighbourhood stores, especially ones selling food and other products, which are indeed opening their doors. The majority of which are not larger than 100 square metres and have necessary security measures such as glass partitions, gloves and masks. The rest of the stores, the larger ones, have decided to remain closed. “I have spoken with many business owners and they are telling me that they remain very prudent about opening, they do not want to reopen their stores until all of this has been sufficiently reduced.
“We know what has happened in China and that the issue is decreasing but we still don’t think it’s wise to open, in fact, many restaurants have decided to completely change their plans and reopen solely as a delivery service, rather than face to face with the public,” explained Chen.
On that note, Chen explains that the majority of Chinese restaurants have already assumed that they will only offer home delivery. “Furthermore, they prefer to hire half of their staff from China and the other half to be foreign, in this case, Spanish… in order for it not to be chaotic, the chef must continue cooking and the waiters must now dedicate themselves to delivering food.”
A large majority of Chinese business owners, with large establishments, have asked for the ICO credits issued by Spain’s government but in the case of smaller business “they help each other between families and friends.”
In regard to whether these businesses will face rejection from citizens and refuse to buy in the businesses as a consequence of the Covid-19 virus originating in China, Chen has said that “it does not have to be that way.” She explains that “the Chinese will be the first to close but also the first to open; Chinese people are very sensible and when they see that things are going in the wrong direction they will sit back and close their stores, but they will also be the first to open and now the majority of Chinese establishments are closed because now is not the time.”
Leticia Chen also touched upon the extravagant rent prices that many of the Chinese business owners are succumbed to which she requests should be reduced. She highlights that many of these companies have a very large surface area which means “large and high rent prices. We need to negotiate with property owners, many of them have not been asked to completely remove the rent but at least to reduce rent by 50 per cent until the end of the year, there are some owners who have agreed but normally they are unwilling to collaborate.
“If the landlord does not collaborate it is unsustainable: to pay workers, not have your business open to the public, only offer home-delivery” having that large rent to pay seriously eclipses any profitable returns insinuates Chen.
“I think that deep down a lot of Spanish people think that Chinese people have a lot of money but that is not true. They have savings. Now we are all in a difficult situation. Spanish and Chinese, we are in the same boat. Our source of income has been cut off,” she adds.