On June 26, China-based drone maker DJI made a comeback with the grand opening of a new store in the Tsim Sha Tsui shopping district in Hong Kong. This is the first store to open in two years since the company last closed the doors of its flagship store in Causeway Bay.
The opening of the store was done in collaboration with Swedish camera maker Hasselblad.
“At the current stage, we believe physical retailing is important for our business in Hong Kong, so that we can provide Hong Kong customers with better product experience and services,” a spokeswoman for DJI said. “Our return indicates strong confidence in the Hong Kong market.”
China-based innovation platform TechNode Global reported that an opening ceremony began with arrivals by several guests, including the sales manager of DJI Hong Kong and Macau, who delivered an opening speech. Hong Kong actor Simon Yam even attended the ceremony, relishing in his love for photography and cameras.
The DJI/Hasselblad Concept Store has two floors, with the ground floor featuring the former’s flagship aerial camera, the Mavic 3 Pro, among several others from DJI and Hasselblad’s inventory of equipment.
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The heads of the store
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Founded in 2006 in Shenzhen by Frank Wang Tao, DJI is the world’s largest recreational drone maker. The company opened its former flagship store in Causeway Bay in 2016. However, following the COVID-19 pandemic, the store was forced to close down.
“The reason for the Hong Kong flagship store’s closure in 2021 was to reflect [on] the company’s and the market’s evolving needs,” a spokeswoman said.
Around that time, Beijing initiated strict drone regulations that required “small unmanned aircraft weighing more than 250 grams” to be registered with the Civil Aviation Department. Pilots had to attend online training and register themselves with the department as well.
DJI claimed that the store’s closure did not relate to the new regulations.
Customers of DJI could still buy products at franchised retailers or through its online store in the years leading up to the new store’s opening.
“Online shopping is not popular in Hong Kong, and people tend to buy cheap products online,” Billy Mak Sui-choi, associate professor at the department of accountancy, economics, and finance at Baptist University, said.
“When it comes to expensive products like drones, people prefer a physical shopping experience where they can try out the products and collect,” he added.
Mak claimed that DJI’s return was to open up a new expansion into the local market. Even with limited demand for drones in the city, this new store may still have potential.
“The new location is more convenient for me as it is near to my office,” Arda Yan, a drone photo enthusiast and banker, told SCMP.
“I can send the product directly to the store for maintenance if necessary instead of waiting two weeks for it to be completed in mainland China,” photographer Wong Sai-on, a previous customer from the Causeway Bay store, said.
Despite its return to Hong Kong, DJI still faces difficulty reaching out to the U.S., being one of many companies targeted for nationwide bans. In October 2022, the company was blacklisted by the Pentagon, in light of alleged ties between the company and the communist People’s Liberation Army (PLA).
Hasselblad was founded in 1941, creating cameras that help inspire and propel photographers to take many breathtaking shots, including those of the Moon landings in 1969. But a majority stake in the company has been owned by DJI since 2017, leading to several collaborations on drone surveillance and photography.