Lau Shiu-yuen (劉紹源): Jeweler and Developer from the 1960s
York Lo: Lau Shiu-yuen (劉紹源): Jeweler and Developer from the 1960s
Left: Lau Shiu-yuen (WKYP, 1963-4-1); Right: advertorial for Man Hee Mansion developed by Lau Shiu-yuen in Wanchai in 1963 (WKYP, 1963-8-24)
In the 1960s, Lau Shiu-yuen was a major player in the jewelry business with three branches of his Mays Jewellers (美時珠寶) in prime locations in HK and Kowloon and like many of his fellow jewelers, he was involved in property development and developed at least two buildings in Wanchai and Sham Shui Po.
Born in around 1920, Lau established Mays Trading (美時貿易) and its subsidiary Mays Jewellers in the 1950s although as a firm Mays Trading was not incorporated until 1964. The original Mays Jewellers store was located at 74B Queen’s Road Central (current site of Redge House which was built in 1971).
In 1959, Mays made the news when Lau reported to the police that his firm was tricked out of HK$26000 worth of diamonds by a chubby 5 ft 3 swindler who allegedly scammed over 20 leading jewelers in HK out of $2 million worth of jewelry using fake checks. (WKYP,1959-2-21)
Opening of Mays Jewellers at the ground floor of the Man Yee Building in Central in August 1963 (WKYP, 1963-8-26)
The losses in 1959 did not slow down the growth of Mays and in August 1963, the firm opened a branch at Shop L14 on the ground floor of the Man Yee Building in Central which was followed by a Kowloon branch that opened at 184A Nathan Road (Mercantile House) in March 1964.
Scene from the opening reception of Mays Jewellers’ Kowloon branch in 1964 (WKYP, 1964-3-18)
In 1961, Lau incorporated Kit Man Ltd (傑文有限公司) to engage in property development with listed address at 76 Queen’s Road Central next to Mays’ store at 74. Three of the known projects of the firm were the 10-story Kennedy Mansion (堅尼地大廈) at 165-175 Belcher Street in Kennedy Town which was built in 1962, the 8 story Mays Building at 44-46 Un Chau Street in Sham Shui Po and the Man Hee Mansion (文熙大廈) at 2-12A Johnston Road in Wanchai, both of which were completed in 1964. Kit Man was dissolved in 1968.
Ad for Mays Building in Sham Shui Po in 1964 (WKYP, 1964-2-28)
Aside from his jewelry and real estate business, Lau was also a director of Hoover Chiu Chow Restaurant (豪華潮州酒樓), which was established in 1964 in the Hoover Theatre building in Causeway Bay by a group of jewelers led by Chiuchow native Ma Hing-chow (founder of Lee Heng Diamonds) and included Foo Heng Jewellery director Kenneth Lo Hung-cheuk and total investments exceeded $1 million.
Outside of business, Lau was active in community affairs. He was elected to the board of the Tung Wah Group of Hospitals in 1963 and by that time he was already honorary life president of the Chung Sing Benevolent Society and he and fellow Tung Wah director Lau Kwong (see Tai On Machinery Works) were both honored by the HK Lung Kong Association and Lau’s Clansmen Association that year. (WKYP, 1963-4-1)
The last time Lau Shiu-yuen’s name appeared in the press in HK was in 1974 when he and fellow jewelry merchant Ko Yat-yuen (高溢賢) were handing over trophies to members of the Repulse Bay Winter Swimming Club which they led. (WKYP, 1974-5-21)
As a firm, Mays Trading was dissolved in 2002. May’s Jewellery Ltd (founded in 1997 and incorporated in 1999) has no relations to Mays Jewellers started by Lau Shiu-yuen as it has a different Chinese name and it is unclear if May’s Jewellery Co on Nathan Road which has the same Chinese name is related to Lau but TDC info on the firm listed 1989 as its inception date and Chris Tsang as contact.
This article was first posted on 22nd May 2020.
Related Indhhk articles:
- G Falconer & Company, Watchmakers & Jewellers – HK agent for Ross Optical Ltd, Clapham, London and Kelvin & Hughes, marine instruments, London
- Three Generations and Three Industries: From Budson Watch to Casey Diamonds to Ingrid Millet
- Kwok Yat-wai (郭一葦, 1915-1990): Jeweler, Developer and Philanthropist
- H.K. Wah Yuen Investment (華源置業) – Leading Property Developer in the 1950s and 1960s
- Cheng Keng-chuen (鄭鏡泉) – Developer behind Alhambra Building (平安大厦) and Evergreen Villa (松柏新邨)
- Jaime Chua Tiampo (蔡天普) – Developer of Chungking Mansions (重慶大廈)
- Chan Cheung (陳章): Trader, Garment Manufacturer and Developer
- Kin Yick Liong (建益隆) – Real Estate Developer from the 1960s