Jam Fair Department Store (占飛百貨)

York Lo: Jam Fair Department Store (占飛百貨)

Jam Fair Department Store Image 1 York Lo

Left: Jam Fair’s store in Central in 1968; Right: Jam Fair at Honour House in Yaumatei in 1989

From the 1940s to 1970s, Jam Fair was one of leading retailers in Hong Kong with branches in Central in the HK side and two stores on Nathan Road in the Kowloon side.

Jam Fair was founded in 1945 at 39 Des Voeux Road Central by Chui Jor-ke (崔佐基, 1912-1989) and his brother Chui Jor-liang (崔佐樑), who had also started theMay Fair Company (美飛公司) on Nathan Road the year before. The two firms focused primarily on selling ladies outfits and drapers in the early years, but later Jam Fair evolved into a full-scale department store.

Jam Fair Department Store Image 2 York Lo

The original Jam Fair Store on Des Voeux Road on the right next to Kung Sheung Daily News. (Worthpoint)

In 1949, Chui Jor-liang took over the famous Lun Cheung Silk Store (綸章) in Canton, which was founded in 1902, from Ng Kwan-lit (伍君烈). As part of the sale agreement, Ng stipulated that Chui could not change the name of the store. As the fashion trend in Canton tended to be behind that of Hong Kong, Chui was able unload some of Jam Fair’s old inventory, which were considered fashionable in Canton, at Lun Cheung. Under Chui, Lun Cheung did great business and grew to 37 staff before it became a public private enterprise under Communist rule in 1956 and Jor-leung returned to Hong Kong.

In the 1950s, Jam Fair also had a Mongkok branch of Jam Fair at 610 Nathan Road which shut down in 1960 when the landlord decided to re-develop. As a result, Jam Fair conducted a removal sale and moved its Kowloon operation to its affiliate May Fair at 379 Nathan Road. (KSDN, 1960-2-28)

Jam Fair Department Store Image 3 York Lo

Chui Jor-ke (center) with Ho Tim (left) and Ho Sin-hang (right) at the opening of Jam Fair in Central in 1963 (KSDN, 1963-10-9)

In 1963, Jam Fair completed the 16-story Jam Fair Building (占飛大廈)at its site at 39-41 Des Voeux Road Central with the first six floors as department stores and the rest leased out as offices. The new store was opened in October with several hundred guests including Ho Tim and Ho Sin-hang from Hang Seng Bank as shown in above article.(KSDN, 1963-10-6)At the time, the store carried top imported brands such as Arrow shirts and Gold Toe socks as shown by the congratulatory ads they placed and allegedly Jam Fair told Tsang Hin-chi to go away when he approached them to sell his Goldlion ties in the early 1970s when he was first starting out.

In December 1969, Jam Fair opened its new Kowloon branch in a 15000 sq ft space at the Honour House (金勳大廈)on the former site of May Fair at 375-381 Nathan Road which was developed by Au Shue-hung (see article). The opening ceremony was attended by over 1000 guests including Q.W. Lee and Ho Tim from Hang Seng Bank.  (KSDN, 1969-12-22; 1969-12-16)

In September 1972, Jam Fair opened its new Mongkok branch at 629-631 Nathan Road and the opening ceremony was attended by most of the board members of Hang Seng Bank, Wu Kit-yee from Wing Lung Bank and the Liu brothers from Liu Chong Hing Bank. The new store occupied 5000 sq ft and carried the full range of products. (KSDN, 1972-9-22; 1972-9-19) For whatever reason, the Tsui family decided to sell the Jam Fair Building in Central to the listed Luen Hing Shing Development in the early 1970s and as a result, the building was renamed Luen Hing Shing Building (聯興盛大廈) and the HK branch of Jam Fair was eventually closed. The building is now known as Emperor Commercial Centre.

In 1973, the Chui family incorporated Jam Fair Estates (dissolved in 1983) and in 1976, the 21-story Jam Fair Commercial Building (占飛商業大厦, now SPA Centre) at 53-55 Lockhart Road in Wanchai was completed.

Jam Fair Department Store Image 4 York Lo

Left: Ad for the opening of Jam Fair Building and store in Central in 1963 (WKYP, 1963-10-8); Right: paper box of Jam Fair with a sketch of the Jam Fair Central building on its cover (Carousell)

Chui Jor-ke died in 1989 at the Baptist Hospital in HK at the age of 80 and was survived by three sons – Chee-kong (崔志剛), Tsui Chi-yiu (崔志堯) and Chi-shun (崔志信) and three daughters. Chee-kong and Chi-yiu were managing director and manager of Jam Fair in the 1960s and the 1970s but ultimately chose not to continue the family business.(WKYP, 1989-9-27)

In February 1991, Jam Fair closed its last store at Honour House and sold its retail space to Pour Stand Limited for $47 million, which was 10% lower than their original asking price of $52 million. (WKYP, 1991-2-17)

Chui Jor-ke was predeceased by his brother Jor-leung who had three daughters and two sons – Chui Che-keung (崔志強) and Henry Chui Che-hung (崔志雄), both of whom went into accounting. In 2010, Jam Fair and the Chui family hit the headlines in a negative way whenHenry Chui, a shareholder of Jam Fair and partner of the accounting firm of H.C. Watt & Co was sentenced to 56 months in jail for crimes involving minors in 2010 despite mercy pleas from his former auditing clients including Cheng Yu-tung and the children of Henry Fok and Stanley Ho.

As a firm, Jam Fair Co Ltd (占飛有限公司) was incorporated in 1963 and dissolved in 2002.

Sources (other than those cited above):

http://www.gzzxws.gov.cn/gzws/gzws/ml/58/200809/t20080917_8872.htm

https://webb-site.com/dbpub/natarts.asp?p=65487

This article was first posted on 26th March 2021.

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