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According to research by the global recruitment company, Antal International, high-end shops in London and other major cities may lose out on a potential boom in business this Christmas due to a crippling shortage of Mandarin and Cantonese speakers.

A recent survey of luxury goods retailers across the capital suggested that almost all were finding it difficult to hire enough experienced staff with fluency in these two key Chinese languages. In addition almost three out of every five believed this issue would have a negative impact on potential business over the Christmas period.

“Chinese tourists represent a significant source of business for retailers in the luxury goods sector and, increasingly they expect to be met by a sales specialist with a clear grasp of their native language,” says Liz Dillon, a partner at Antal International. “However, the traditional source of temporary retail workers with Mandarin or Cantonese – the Chinese student community in the UK - has been restricted by the tightening of working visas in recent years. George Osborne’s recent suggestion that the visa process will be relaxed could certainly help in the future, but I fear it may come too late for many retailers banking on a good Christmas 2013.”


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