Hong Kong Glove Manufacturers
York Lo: Hong Kong Glove Manufacturers
The glove manufacturing industry in Hong Kong began in the early 1950s and traced its roots to Shanghai. The number of players quickly increased from less than five to over 40 within three years and most of the growth was driven by export demand, particularly in the UK where HK manufacturers had preferential tax treatment over its Japanese competitors. (TKP, 1955-8-29) In 1977, the Association of HK Glove Manufacturers (香港手套製造廠商會) was formed with Yam Tak-sang (任德生) as its inaugural chairman. The group was renamed Association of HK Gloves Traders (“香港手套業商會”) in 1980. Below is a profile of a few HK glove manufacturers founded before 1970:
Hong Kong Glove Manufacturing Co Ltd (香港手套廠)
Malliam Sit (third from the right) at the opening of the Tsuen Wan branch of the Banque Belge Pour L’Etranger in January 1963. Left to right: C.L. Hsu of Diaward, Pierre Mardulyn of Banque Belge, C.C. Yin of Dah Chung, Sit, Hsu Teh, C.W. Chu. (WKYP, 1963-1-12)
Hong Kong Glove Manufacturing was one of the oldest and largest glove manufacturers in HK and was incorporated in 1953 by Wuxi native Malliam Sit (薛孟倫). The firm was originally operating out of Room 606 of the China Building in Central and in 1962, Malliam Sit was fined HK$1500 for not filing his firm’s tax return in time. (WKYP, 1962-10-11) By the mid-1960s, the firm was operating out of 701-702 Regent House in Queen’s Road Central (Foreign Commerce Weekly, 1965) and by the late 1960s, its factory was located at the HK (Chai Wan) Industrial Building in Chai Wan (AA Far East Businessmen Directory, 1969).
In 1968, Malliam Sit incorporated Glove Centre of Hong Kong (香港手套中心). By the late 1970s, the board of Glove Centre was comprised of Chu Shih-yueh, Malliam Sit and his sons Alan P.L. Sit and Samuel P.L. Sit andfemale relative Sit Cheu-say. (HK $ Directory, 1977) Malliam Sit was one of the honored guests at the second annual meeting of the Association of HK Gloves Manufacturers and one of his sons also served on the board. He also established a glove factory in Taiwan in the 1950s.
Madam Sit Cheu-say founded Tai Hong Trading (大康貿易) in 1964 to import footwear and gloves accessories from US, Germany and Japan for distribution to local manufacturers. Her second son David Ngai Mung-lun (倪夢麟), who was a director of Glove Centre of HK, took over Tai Hong after working for the British firm Gilman in the early 1980s and shifted its focus to export of gloves, winterwear and T-shirts. In 1993, Goodwill Associates (上康國際) was formed to handle the export business which currently focuses on the Industrial Safety Sector, Military and Rescue Sector and Casual Fashion Sector.
As a firm, HK Glove Mfg was dissolved in 2004 while Glove Center of HK was dissolved in 2010.
Kea Fung Knitting (奇峰織造廠)
News report of Kea Fung founder Lee Fook-san’s death with his picture taken shortly before he went into the water (KSEN, 1976-11-8)
Founded in 1937, Kea Fung was one of the leading knitwear manufacturers which initially focused on knitwear and swimwear and entered the gloves business in May 1952. By 1955, half of its 600 staff at its plant at 36 Un Chau Street in Sham Shui Po were dedicated to gloves. At the time, 60% of the gloves made in HK were exported to the UK and the number of players in the industry had increased from five to over thirty, hence compressing profit margin. (SCJP, 1955-4-4) By the 1960s, Kea Fung was operating out of 1016-1018 Tai Nam Street.
Kea Fung founder Lee Fook-san (1902-1976) was a well-respected figure in the industry who sadly drowned while participating in a cross-harbor swimming contest in Victoria Harbor in 1976. One of the chief mourners at his funeral was Stanley Ho Sau-nam, the founder of Shui Hing Polly Peck and Standard Knitting who had worked for Kea Fung earlier in his career. (see article on Jan Sin Mee)
Orion Gloves (奥利安手套廠)
Incorporated in 1955 with $250,000 in capital, Orion Gloves was founded by Walter Sulke of Mercedes dealer Zung Fu (see article) and Heinz Moses Pick, who died in March 1988 and lived at the Peninsula Hotel. The firm waslater a subsidiary of Glorette Ltd (incorporated in 1962, dissolved in 2006). By the late 1980s, the firm was chaired by Heinz Moses Pick and its directors included Hans Peter Brochner (who was also general manager) and Henry Walter Erisman. From the late 1960s onwards, it operated out of the 6th Floor of Wing Chai Industrial Building at 27-29 Ng Fong Street in San Po Kong. (AA FE Businessmen Directory, 1969, HK $ Directory, 1977; Directory of HK Industries, 1991). As a firm, it was dissolved in 2004.
McKowan Lowe & Co (英昌洋行)
Tony Ngai at the 25th anniversary celebration of McKowan Lowe in 1984 (WKYP, 1984-12-7)
McKowan Lowe was founded in 1959 by Lo Ying-chi (羅英志), a native of Chiuchow who was previously the export manager of the British trading firm of Harry Wicking & Co. The firm quickly emerged as the leading trader of gloves, earning Lo the title of “King of Gloves”. When one of his clients defaulted on payment, his son Frank Lo Kit-lun (羅杰倫) took over client’s bra factory and eventually built it into the listed Top Form International.
McKowan Lowe was one of the first HK glove traders to re-enter the China market starting in 1974 and within a decade it had quotas to export 1.8 million dozen pairs of gloves from the mainland to the US, representing two third of the total. By 1984, the firm was controlled by Tony Ngai King-tak (魏景德, 1948-), who served as vice president of the Association of HK Gloves Traders and Tong Yuet-huen (唐悅煊). At the time the firm was doing HK$500 million in sales, of which $200 million was related to gloves and the rest related to footwear and lumber. The firm forced gloves from China, Taiwan, South Korea, the Philippines, Thailand and Sri Lanka and was the owner of two high end ladies shoe labels which were sold in the US market. (WKYP, 1984-12-7)
Tony Ngai, who owned 40% of McKowan Lowe, has remained relatively lowkey but he and McKowan Lowe director Evelyn Wong were named in a case with the US SEC in 1997 which accused them of assisting one of the firm’s clients, women footwear importer Jasmine Ltd which was listed on Nasdaq in concealing its liabilities.
Sources (other than those cited above):
Carol Gloves Manufacturing (嘉樂手套製造有限公司)
The Tsim brothers at the dedication ceremony of a building in honor of their mother at the Zhejiang University Hospital in April 2012. Left to right: Yiu-leung, Wing-leung, Hung-leung.
Carol Gloves Manufacturing is one of the largest gloves manufacturers in Hong Kong and it traced its roots to the small glove business started by Taizhou native Tsim Chi-san (詹志山) in 1948.
By the 1960s, Tsim’s eldest son Tsim Wing-leung (詹榮良) and second son Tsim Yiu-leung (詹耀良, 1946-) had joined the family business and began exporting to overseas markets such as Singapore and the US. Ivan Tsim Hung-leung (詹洪良) joined the family business in 1983 after earning mechanical engineering degrees from the University of Toronto and the same year, Carol Gloves Mfg was incorporated. Over time, other family businesses such as Tsim’s Company Ltd (詹氏有限公司, incorporated in 1985), Winstar Button Manufacturing (威事達有限公司, incorporated in 1991) and Wah Fung Enterprises Ltd (華峰企業有限公司, incorporated in 1993) were also established.
Starting with factory in Dongguan in 1985, the Tsim family began investing heavily in the mainland. In 1998, the Tsim family developed Yaoda Shopping Center (耀達商場) in Linhai, which was the first large scale shopping mall in their native Taizhou area. In 2005, the family built the first 5-star hotel in Taizhou – Taizhou Yaoda International Hotel (台州耀達國際酒店). This was followed by Huangyan Yaoda Hotel (黃岩耀達國際酒店) and Wenling Yaoda International Hotel (溫岭耀達國際酒店).
Outside of business, Tsim Yiu-leung has served as president of United Zhejiang Residents Association of HK from 2015 to 2019 and has donated generously to many causes in his native Taizhou since 1993.
The Tsim family has also been active in the HK property market in recent years. In 2013, the family through Maycarol Ltd (美加樂聯合實業) acquired the Coastal Skyline Shopping Arcade from HKR for HK$406.8 million.In 2020, the brothers through Apex Billion Ltd (焯億有限公司) acquired Mei Foo Sun Chuen for HK$300 million. In February, the brothers through Mandom Industrial (萬生實業有限公司, incorporated in 2020) acquired the entire 16th floor of 888 Lai Chi Kok Road for HK$340 million.
Sources (other than those cited above):
AML Group (昌利行)
Frank Lam and his daughter Juliana Lam (second and third from the left) and his partner Edward Cheng (third from the right) at the 50th anniversary party for AML Group in 2013.
AML was founded in 1963 by Edward Cheng Wing-chung (鄭泳忠, 1940-) and Frank Lam Chi-kuen (林志權, 1944-) to manufacture gloves. The firm was incorporated as Austins Marmon Ltd in 1981 and was renamed AML Group in 2010. Both had served as independent non-executive directors of the listed Carry Wealth Holdings in the early 2000s. By the early 2010s, the group had sales over HK$1 billion and counting major brands such as J. Crew, Gap and Nike as clients with annual production of 40 million pairs of gloves manufactured in 20 production bases in China, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Indonesia and Cambodia.
Frank’s daughter Juliana Lam (林曉盈) joined AML after graduation from the University of Toronto in 1996. In 2015-16, the Cheng and the Lam family parted ways and Juliana Lam left to start rival glove manufacturer Julius Group (凱盈集團) which counts Walmart, LL Bean and Gap as clients with annual production of several million pairs.
This article was first posted on 22nd October 2021.
Related Indhhk articles:
- Kau Wa Keng Old Village, 九華徑 – glove and shoe factories – closed in the late 1970s
- Brothers: Knitwear Pioneer Yap Chuin-siu and Financier Simon Yip
- Chan Chak-man(陳澤民) – Forgotten Knitwear Tycoon from the 1960s
- Lap Shun – the Fallen Knitwear Giant
- Zung Fu (仁孚) and 65 Years of Mercedes in Hong Kong