Cosmetics company Lancome has closed its main stores in Hong Kong amid protests accusing the firm of bowing to China for cancelling a concert by pro-democracy singer Denise Ho. David Pollard reports.
For a cosmetics store, they were hardly beautiful scenes. These Hong Kong protesters furious at Lancome for, they say, bending to China. After the make-up manufacturer cancelled a concert by pro-democracy singer Denise Ho. Ho was the first Hong Kong celebrity arrested as part of the Umbrella movement protests. The Lancome decision, in her words, 'self-censorship'. (SOUNDBITE) (English) CANTO-POP SINGER, DENISE HO, SAYING: " I cannot agree with the way they have handled the whole situation. And I cannot agree with the fact that by succumbing to such pressure, they are spreading some kind of fear among other brands." One brand that might be feeling the fear is Lancome owner L'Oreal. A 95 billion euros giant whose number two market is China. It says it cancelled the concert for safety reasons. As for Ho - she says she's lost 70 to 80 per cent of her income since also being banned from mainland China. The row hardly music to the ears of Lancome shoppers either. (SOUNDBITE) (Cantonese) SHOPPER WHO USES LANCOME PRODUCTS, AKIKO KWONG, SAYING: "I won't think badly of their products because of this incident but I do think their brand's image has been greatly tarnished not just in Hong Kong, but also internationally." And the damage potentially more than just skin deep. Lancome's main stores in Hong Kong now shut - amid calls for a boycott of its products.