The Garden Company Ltd (嘉頓有限公司) founded in 1926

HF: The Garden Company Limited (嘉頓有限公司) is a bakery and confectionery manufacturer in Hong Kong.

The company was founded in 1926 by cousins Tse Fong Cheung and Wah O Wong in Kowloon with a single bakery. The name “Garden” was established when the cousins passed their time during night breaks in the Hong Kong Botanical Garden in Central, where they discussed their plan to open a bakery shop.

The company’s name is named after the Hong Kong Zoological and Botanical Gardens.

In its early days, Garden had a factory in Ap Liu Street of Shum Shui Po which produced biscuits and bread.

In 1927 the first retail branch opened on Des Voeux Road, Central.

In 1931 the Central branch moved to much larger, 3-storey, rented premises at Ap Liu Street, Sham Shui Po. Using locally manufactured machinery, the factory operated 24 hours a day producing biscuits at daytime, bread and cakes at night.

A great fire at Winter Solstice in 1932 destroyed the factory, and a mistake in the insurance policy resulted in a complete loss. The factory had to close down for a few months.

In 1935 a 475 sq. m site on Castle Peak Road was bought for HKD$10,000 to house the new factory.

With the outbreak of the Sino-Japanese War, the company went into round-the-clock operation for 7 days to produce 90,000 kg of Army Cracker.

In 1938 operations transferred to the new 1,400 sq. m factory on Castle Peak Road. A contract was signed with the British HK government, appointing Garden as the major supplier of wartime army bakery goods.

The Castle Peak Road factory was occupied by Japanese troops in 1941 and all production materials and facilities were demolished. Production once again came to a halt.

Operations resumed normal at the end of the war in 1945.
Having grown to become one of the leading food enterprises in Hong Kong, Garden registered as a limited company and began its journey as a corporation in 1947.

The company had its first booth at the 1948 6th Hong Kong Exhibition of Chinese Products. Its booths featured a fluorescent light “red star” billboard, promoting its “Red Star” canned biscuits.

Garden Co Ltd - 7th Exhibition of Chinese products, HK Memory

7th Exhibition of Chinese products 1949 Courtesy: The Chinese Manufacturers’ Association, The HK Memory Project

In 1949 inspired by a trade visit to the UK, Mr. T. F. Cheung ordered the latest, fully-automated biscuit production machinery from Britain.

The bakery workshop area was increased to 7,000 sq. m in 1951, and the company began to supply bread and biscuits to the army, navy and airforce of Hong Kong.

By 1952 With automatic biscuit production machine imported from the UK, Garden was the first bakery in Asia to implement mechanized manufacturing processes. The machine produced over 5,000 kg of biscuits per day.

In 1954 Garden achieved automation of bakery and confectionery production.

All machinery was seriously damaged in the wake of the October Riots in 1956.

In 1958 the factory on Castle Peak Road was further expanded to a total area of 10,000 sq.mts, with part of the premises being 7 storeys tall.

Its workforce having grown to 500 in 1962, the company purchased a 13,000 sq. m site in Sham Tseng to build the new biscuit and confectionery plant.

A new biscuit plant opened in 1963.

Garden Co Ltd-1963 advert IDJ

1963 advert Courtesy: IDJ

Followed, in 1968, by a new confectionery plant.

In 1970 modernized plant to poduce “Life Bread” was completed in Sham Tseng and commenced operation.

In 1974 an additional plant was constructed in Sham Tseng for the production of other products, including buns and sandwich breads.

With the opening of its first ice-cream plant in 1979, the company took a major step towards product diversification.

In 1982 the No. 3 Bakery Plant began operation, and the confectionery plant was further expanded.

As a joint venture, Garden established Hua Jia Foodstuff Co. in Dongguan, Guangdong Province in 1985.

In 1987 the company further expanded into Mainland China with the establishment of Li Hua Biscuit factory in Dongguan.

In 1992 new machinery was installed in the completely reconstructed Bakery Plant in Sham Tseng. The new plant was a multi-storey building with a total area of approximately 50,000 sq. m.

As another joint venture, in 1995 Garden signed an agreement with Gong Yang Foodstuff Co. Ltd. in Yang Zhou, Jiangsu to extend its reach in the East-China market. The factory commenced operation in 2000.

In 2000 biscuit production began at the new factory in Yang Zhou, Jiangsu, in a joint venture between Garden and Gong Yang Foodstuff Co. Ltd.

At the beginning of 2002, a new frozen line in the Sham Tseng plant commenced production.

In September 2004, the Company acquired a piece of land in Chashan, Dongguan to construct a new production plant.

In June 2005, Garden Food (Dongguan) Co. Ltd. was established. Preparation for constructing the Chashan production plant immediately followed. Offices were also set up in Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen and Guangzhou.

Maintenance of the exterior walls of the Sham Tseng plant was carried out in 2006 to prepare for the implementation of the dust-proof environment and enhancement project.

In December of that year, construction of the Chashan production plant was completed and installation of production equipment was started.

Today, the company remains owned by the Cheung family with several joint ventures with other Chinese firms.

Bakery Locations – Sham Tseng

13,000 square metres (1962)
2nd expansion (1974)
3rd expansion (1982)
4th expansion – 50,000 square metres (1992)
5th expansion – 70,000-square metres (2000)

Kowloon

1st bakery (1926–1935
expansion – 475-square metres (1935–1938)
expansion – 1,400-square metres (1938–1941)
expansion (1947–1951)
expansion – 7,000 square metres (1951–1958)
expansion – 10,000 square metres (1958-?)

Central

2nd bakery (1927–1935)

Sham Shui Po (1931-1934)

Hua Jia Foodstuff Company, Dongguan, China (1985)

Gong Yang Foodstuff Company, Jiangsu,China (2000)

Sources:

  1. The Garden Company website – milestones
  2. The Garden Company wikipedia

Related Indhhk articles:

  1. The Lane Crawford Bakery, Stubbs Road, 1938-1948
  2. Hong Kong Bakeries around the time of WW2
  3. Two HK bakeries 1864 – The Wanchi and The Colonial, and mention of two other companies

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