Luen Fook Hong (聯福行)

York Lo: Luen Fook Hong (聯福行)

Luen Fook Hong Image 1 York Lo

Two views of Luen Fook Hong at David House on Des Voeux Road in Central. The color picture on the left was likely taken during the Christmas season in the 1950s while the black and white picture on the right was taken by Harrison Forman in 1941.(Gwulo)

From the 1930s to the 1960s, Luen Fook Hong was a prominent dealerand importer ofproducts ranging from medicines, perfumeries and cosmetics, toys and novelties to refrigerators, air-conditioners,cameras and bicycles.

Luen Fook Hong Image 2 York Lo

Left: J.M. Wong (SCAACPA); Right: the Wong clan in 1921, Wong Yau-chuen and his wife were in the center and his sons were standing in the back (J.M. Wong was fourth from the left) with their spouses in the front. (Peter Hall, In the Web)

Incorporated in 1934, Luen Fook Hong was controlled by the Wong and the Ngan families withJoseph Mau-lam Wong (黃茂林, 1876-1969, better known as “J.M. Wong”), a well-known business and community leader, serving as its chairman. J.M. was the second son of Wong Yau-chuen, a native of Dongguan who was a purchased laborer in British Guiana turned successful merchant in Hong Kong. One of J.M.’s 15 siblings wasDr. Benjamin Wong Cheong-lam (黄菖林, 1885-1958), one of the founding directors of the HK Sanatorium.J.M. went to Diocesan Boys School (he later served as president of DSOBA and member of the School Committee from 1929-42) and was one of the first Chinese accountants in HK who co-founded and served as the first chairman of the Society of Chinese Accountants and Auditors (1913-1932). By 1905, he was already attached to the trading firm of John D. Humphreys & Sons, which was the general manager of the dispensary and aerated water firm A.S. Watson& Co. (Directory & Chronicle for China, Japan…) He served as the Chinese comprador of Watsons for many decades and from early on, Luen Fook Hong had a close relationship with Watsons. For example, when Watsons announced the result of its children cough syrup number of bottles guessing competition in 1938, it was held at Luen Fook Hong’s store in Central(Wah Tsz Yat Po, 1938-4-22) Before the War, the treasurer of Luen Fook Hong was Hung Yok-ming (幸玉銘, d. 1950), a fellow Hakka native of Wong who was distributor of Watsons and Asiatic Petroleum products through his Wing Fook Company (永福). Hung was chairman of the Chung Sing Benevolent Society and principal director of Tung Wah Group of Hospitals (XianggangHuarenMingrenXilue, 1937) and when the Chinese General Chamber of Commerce (which J.M. was the vice chairman of) launched the National Salvation fundraising campaign between 1937 and 1939, J.M. and Hung were vice chairmen of the campaign under Li Sing-kui of Hong Nin Bank. J.M. Wong was also chairman of the Chinese Club, a leader of the anti-Mui tsai movement in the 1920s and co-founder of the Tsung Tsin Association, St. Paul Co-Ed College and the Kowloon Tong Club. For his community services, he was appointed Justice of the Peace in 1923 and received Badge of Honor from the British Crown in 1941. (WKYP, 1969-12-29)His son K.P. Wong (黃錦彪) who worked in the banking sector was a director of Luen Fook Hong while another son K.S. taught at HKU and his daughter Esther Wong Yew-pik (黃瑤璧1909-1996) was the wife of prominent business leader and legislator R.C. Lee. (Vivienne Poy, A River Named Lee).

Luen Fook Hong Image 3 York Lo

Left: Hung Yok-ming,Luen Fook Hong treasurer before the War (XianggangHuarenMingrenXilue, 1937); Centre: opening ad in 1934 for the Pei Ho Theatre controlled by the Ngan family. The first movie it showed was Flying Devils and all its first day proceeds went to support the Sham Shui Po Dispensary; Right: picture of Ngan Huen-chi from the memorial plaque in his native Ngan Village to commemorate his generosity 

While the Ngan family is lesser known relative to the Wong family, they were the driving force behind Luen Fook Hong especially after the War when family member Ngan Poon-duen (顏本端, also known as P.D. Ngan) ran the firm as managing director for majority of the time. By the early 1960s, P.D. Ngan and P.L. Ngan (presumably P.D.’s brother) were the only two listed as directors of Luen Fook Hong. (HK $ Directory, 1963)

The patriarch of the Ngan family was NganHuen-chi (顏絢之), also known as “NganNo. 7” (顏七), who came from the Ngan village (顏邊村) in the Nanhai district in Guangdong province and came to HK with nothing. By the 1920s, he was a successful partner of Fook Hing (福興號), a leading importer and exporter of leather shoes at 172 Wellington Street in partnership with Wong Kit-wan (黃杰雲), who was listed as chief clerk of Vacuum Oil at the same address in the 1910s. (Comacrib Directory, 1925; HK Government Gazette, 1916 and 1917)In 1934, the duo opened the Pei Ho Theatre (北河戲院) in Sham Shui Po and also bought a lot of properties in the area including several lots in 1936 which the families sold to the Salvation Army in 1947 which built a girl’s home on top of the site which they operated until 1991.Huen-chi served on the board of the Tung Wah Hospital in 1936 and died in the same year in November at his residence in 99 FukWa Street in Sham Shui Po – his estate donated his property at 97 FukWa Street to a trust in his native Ngan village which provided scholarships to poor students from the Ngan clan. He was succeeded as manager of the Pei Ho Theatre by Ngan Keng-hoi (顏鏡海), who was a director of Luen Fook Hong in the late 1940s. Keng-hoi served asprincipal director of Tung Wah Group of Hospitals in 1936-37 and chairman of the Pok Oi Hospital in 1937-38.After the War, the Ngan family and Wong Kit-wan sold the Pei Ho Theatre to the Shaw family in 1946 (the theatre operated until 1977 when it was re-developed into a residential building). Outside of business, Wong Kit-wan was known for his involvement in Buddhism having acquired 9 ½ mile Castle Peak Road in Tsuen Wan n 1939 to build the Buddhist temple Wang Fat Ching She (弘法精舍) which his third concubine Wong Pik-ngor (王璧娥) donated to Tung Lin Kok Yuen (東蓮覺苑) in 1960.

Luen Fook Hong Image 4 York Lo

Picture of the toy department at Luen Fook Hong’s store in Central in 1962 (WKYP, 1962-12-14)

In the 1930s and 1940s, Luen Fook Hong’s primary focus was medicine and healthcare productsand the firm had the agencies for two British firms – Brook Parker brand of medicine and Vann Brothers’ Coldlitebrand of surgical instruments (Business Directory of HK, Canton and Macao, 1949)

In the 1950s and 1960s, the firm became a major retailer of toys and one of the ads during the Christmas season in 1961 boasted several thousand toy items from the UK, the US, Germany and Japan. (KSDN, 1961-12-22)

From its inception in the 1930s until the summer of 1963,Luen Fook Hong operated out of the ground floor of David House at 67 Des Voeux Road Central. When David House was being re-developed in 1963, the firm relocated to 94-96 Kimberley Road in Tsim Sha Tsui. That Christmas, clients who purchased over $2 worth of medicine, perfumes, toys or Christmas card received free English test prep materials for Form 4 and 5 students. (KSDN, 1963-12-25)

Luen Fook Hong Image 5 York Lo

Article about the appointment of Luen Fook Hong as distributor of Aveeno in HK in 1965 (WKYP, 1965-4-24)

In 1965, Luen Fook Hong became the exclusive distributor of Aveeno (愛美露) brand of American skincare products. The firm was also selling nylon schools and bamboo products from Taiwan and swimming gears imported from the US.By the late 1960s, Luen Fook Hong also had a branch at the Tung Ying Building in Tsim Sha Tsui managed by Tam Hing-luen (譚慶聯) while the day to day operations of the firm was handled by Francis X. Loo (盧錦倫, 1914-1998), who was also co-founder and chairman of the HK Life Saving Society and a famous educator. (Overseas Chinese Business Directory, 1969)

As a firm, Luen Fook Hong was dissolved in 1994.

Sources (other than those cited above):

https://www.aab.gov.hk/form/20191219_historic_2_new_items.pdf

This article was first posted on 24th August 2020.

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