In the United States, we tend to think that we have the biggest and best of everything. When it comes to the world’s largest jewelry retailer however, there is no American company that can touch Chow Tai Fook.
Chow Tai Fook is no latecomer to the jewelry business. They’ve been around for over 85 years. The China based company is poised for even further growth as China’s economy expands and an IPO a few years ago raised billions in new funding. This is the world’s juggernaut in the jewelry retail industry and most of us in the West have never even heard of them. In China their name is as familiar as Coke or McDonalds in the U.S. They are worth learning more about.
A Quick History
Chow Tai Fook was started back in 1929. It is run by one of China’s richest families, and was operated as a privately owned company until 2011, when they decided to sell off about 10% of the company to generate funding for expansion. Raise funds they did, as the IPO generated $2 BILLION. Keep in mind, this was for just over 10% of their jewelry business.
How Big is Big?
Chow Tai Fook is one of the most recognized brands in China. Their name is on billboards and busboards everywhere in the East. They have over 50 stores in Hong Kong alone. In 2011 the company had 1,000 retail stores on mainland China. Their IPO made them literally twice as large as Tiffany’s, and there doesn’t appear to be anything to stop them. They have a goal of having over 2,000 stores in the country by 2020.
As if the sheer size of Chow Tai Fook’s jewelry division isn’t large enough, the jewelry store is part of an even bigger conglomerate, entitled Chow Tai Fook Enterprises Ltd. The parent company is also involved in commercial development, hotels and casinos, telecommunications, and transportation. The company is also a major shareholder of New World Development Co. The Organization’s holdings are far reaching to say the least.
The Chow Tai Fook Difference
There are many aspects of the Chow Tai Fook stores that make them distinctive. Stores feature clerks who are dressed in the same outfits and they serve tea and water. While Tiffany or other major brands focus on big cities in the West, you will find Chow Tai Fook stores in smaller cities in China and the East.
Other differences include the fact that about 50% of their sales come from the sales of gold, much of it 24k. The Chinese have a preference for 24k gold and Chow Tai Fook has been more than willing to sell it daily at prices tied to the market price.
As far as other pricing is concerned, unlike in U.S. high end jewelry stores, you will likely see open haggling on prices in these stores. Clerks, calculators in hand, with go back and forth with customers until a sale is made.
While some of the practices of Chow Tai Fook may seem foreign to us, they are without question, the largest jewelry retailer on the planet. This, in spite of the fact that many of us in the states have never even heard of it. They seem to be doing just fine without us.