York Trading (玉旨行)

York Lo: York Trading (玉旨行)

York Trading Image 1 York Lo

Opening of York Trading’s branch in Aberdeen in 1955. Second from the right was fellow pharmaceutical executive and CGCC chairman Ko Cheuk-hung while first from the left was likely the managing director Chan Hin-ying. (WKYP, 1955-5-13)

York Trading was one of the leading manufacturers and distributors of Western and Chinese medicine in HK in the 1950s and 1960sand it was founded in 1949 by physician Dr. Tsang Fuk-cho (曾福初) and his wife Chan Hin-ying (陳憲英), who managed the business as its managing director.

A native of Bao-an county (which include Hong Kong), Tsang was born in HK in 1904 and graduated from HKU with a MBBS in 1926 and was registered to practice medicine the same year. After the War, his practice operated out of the 4th floor of the Bank of China Building in Central where York Trading also operated out of. Outside of medicine, Tsang was extremely in the business arena and community affairs, co-founding the United Chinese Bank (中國聯合銀行) with Colonel Yee Shiu-kee CBE (余兆麒, better known as S.K. Yee, 1904-1993, founder of the S.K. Yee Medical Foundation in 1983) in 1948 which he served as a permanent director of and having served on the board of the Chinese General Chamber of Commerce and as president of the Po On Fellowship Association.

Incorporated in March 1949, York Trading opened its doors in May 1949. (KSDN, 1949-5-3) The directors of York Trading at launch aside from Tsang and Chan included Tsang’s brother Tsang Fuk-shing, his banking partner S.K. Yee, restaurant mogul Fung Kim-sang (馮儉生), Tang Chi-ching (鄧志清, director of Chinese Reform Club), solicitor Lam Man-kit (see article on handbags), Sun Sin-chuen (辛善全), Siu Hin-lung andcandle magnate Lam Ki-fung (see article). (WKYP, 1950-3-24) The firm was primarily known for three products in its early years – “Safe Mixture” (平安露) to treat fever, cold and other illnesses, “York Balm” (玉旨油) and “Skin Oilment” (皮膚膏). (CGCC Directory, 1965; 香港進出口貿易手册, 1954)

The firm held its first anniversary banquet at the China Restaurant in March 1950 which was attended by several hundred guests and the founders highlighted the firm’s mission to promote public health and helping the sick and the poor. In July 1950, York ran an advertising jingle competition for “Safe Mixture”. (WKYP, 1950-7-3)

At launch, the firm had purchased 15 old buildings at 12 to 27 Island Road in Aberdeen with the intention of building a factory but the 24 tenants (over 300 people) refused to leave which resulted in a lawsuit between the firm and the tenants in January 1952. (WKYP, 1952-1-4)

In July 1952, the firm sent representatives to different restaurant venues across town to promote “York Balm” as a disinfectant to prevent the spread of tuberculosis and other infectious diseases. (WKYP, 1952-7-4)

In July 1954, York held its fifth shareholders meeting at its offices on the 5th floor of 4 Queen’s Road Central. The firm elected Sun Sin-chuen as chairman and its financials were improving although its profits were small. (WKYP, 1954-7-16)

By the mid-1950s, York was finally able tore-develop its properties in Aberdeen into 12 four-story new buildings. In May 1955, York opened a new retail outlet at 13 Island Road in Aberdeen. The opening ceremony as described in above article was attended by several hundred guests including Ngan Shing-kwan, Ko Cheuk-hung, Singnam Choy (see article), Ma Man-fai, Lee Mow-kie (see article) and Aberdeen community leader and developer Fong Yun-wah of Hip Shing Hong.

In December 1955 to January 1956, York participated in the HK Products Expo promoting its “Safe Mixture” with buy 2 get 1 free deals and lucky draw. (WKYP, 1956-1-3)

In 1959, York launched its fourth product – a health supplement called “Health Capsules” (健康寶), said to be inspired by the WHO’s slogan of “Health is Wealth” (WKYP, 1959-1-4)

York Trading Image 2 York Lo

Left: York Trading father Dr. Tsang Fuk-cho (HK Album, 1967); Right: Randolph Tsang with his diploma in 1961 (WKYP, 1961-5-24)

In January 1963, Tsang Fuk-cho had his 60th birthday party and the celebration with attended by Sir S.N. and T.N. Chau, Kenneth Fung and his twin brother, Sir S.K. Tang, the Fong family, Cheung Chan-hon, his business partners and many others. Tsang and Chan have 3 sons and 3 daughters. Their eldest son Tsang Chiu-yan (曾超人) worked for the HK government hospitals for many years. Second son Randolph Tsang Chiu-lun (曾超倫) was born in 1936 and received his M.D. from Dalhousie University in 1961 and worked at the Queen Mary’s Hospital in HK. Third son Alexander Tsang Chiu-ching(曾超正) was qualified as a solicitor in the UK and served as chairman of the Po On Chamber of Commerce (寶安商會) in the 1970s and early 1980s before moving to Toronto. The eldest daughter Tsang Chiu-lin (曾超蓮) graduated from night school at the United College in 1962 and worked for United Chinese Bank which her father served on the board of. The second daughter Tsang Chiu-yin (曾超賢) worked for the accounting firm of Peat Marwick (now KPMG) andmarried W.P. Mo (毛雲鵬), solicitor and younger brother of Peter Mo (毛雲龍) at the St John’s Cathedral in 1963. (WKYP, 1963-11-24) The third daughter Tsang Chiu-tak (曾超德) worked for York. (WKYP, 1963-1-6; WKYP, 1962-7-22; 1961-5-24)

By the late 1970s, the firm was operating out of 501 Central House (Business Directory of HK, 1977). As a firm, York Trading was dissolved in 1980.

This article was first posted on 28th June 2021.

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