Luen Yick Knitting (聯益織造)
York Lo: Luen Yick Knitting (聯益織造)
Article about Luen Yick’s IPO on 1973 (WKYP, 1973-4-25)
Founded in 1940, Luen Yick Knitting was one of the leading knitwear manufacturers in the 1950s and 1960s and went public in 1973 as Luen Yick Manufacturing & Property.
Luen Yick founder Chan Luen-fun (陳聯芬, 1907-1974)has the exact same Chinese name as a KMT official in Fujian who later moved to the Philippines, but they are not the same person. He was a native of Siu Hing in Guangdong province where he went to the Sung Lung School and was named honorary chairman of the Sung Lung Old Boys Association (宋隆校友會) in HK when it was formed in 1963 and opened its clubhouse in 1965. (WKYP, 1965-2-23)
In the 1950s, Luen Yick Knitting was located at 99 Fuk Wing Street in Sham Shui Po. (A Handbook of HK Industry, 1958). In 1963, Chan incorporated Luen Yick Knitting Factory Ltd and Luen Fun Investment Co (聯芬置業) which developed the 12-story, 96000 sq ft Luen Yick House (聯益大廈) at 600 Yee Kuk Street and Luen Yick moved into the top floor (11th) as its head office.
In 1965, he incorporated California Knitting Mill (加州織造) which also operated out of Luen Yick House. (Redbook, 1969) An ad from 1972 described Luen Yick Knitting as an “expert in hand-silk screen printed knitwear, fashionable styles in angora, shetland, lambswool, wool, acrylic, mixed fancy yarn, plain and solid colours” (HK Productivity News, 1972) In 1973, the firm received HK$30 million in orders from overseas markets such as Japan, Middle East, West Germany and Mauritius, a 40% jump from the prior year. Although the cost of cotton was rising, Luen Yick’s profits were secured as it had one year’s worth of cotton in its inventory.
Outside of his business, Chan Luen-fun was vice chairman of the HK Chinese Weaving Mills Association in the 1960s and early 1970s, serving on the board alongside others covered earlier in the group such as Mui Chok-chu of Kamsing Knitting, Lau Koon-chiu of Kelly Brothers, Yuen Chik-min of Koon Chuen Kow, C.T. Shiu of Bethlehem Knitting and Lam Kin-ming of Sing Fook (whose family’s Lai Sun Group later acquired Luen Yick House). (WKYP, 1970-9-15) He was also honorary president of the Sung Lung Alumni Association, director of the Chinese Manufacturers Association and honorary life president of the HK Industrial Export & Trade Association.
When the stock market bubble emerged in the early 1970s, Chan Luen-fun injected Luen Yick and Luen Fun into Luen Yick Manufacturing & Property Co Ltd (聯益工業及發展), which went public in May 1973 through the issuance of 9.6 million new shares at $1 per share on the Far East and Kam Ngan exchanges. The projected net income that year for the firm was $2.3 million and its assets included Luen Yick House which was assessed at $12 million and generating $900,000 in annual rental income and $4 million worth of production machinery. The board at IPO comprised of Chan himself, five of his eight sons, CMA and Chuang’s Cutlery chairman Chuang Chong-wen (see article), Lee Ming (unclear if it was the same Lee Ming from Lee Yu Kee) and Jeffrey Ohrenstein, a garment importer from the UK with branch in HK.
Sadly, Chan Luen-fun died in his home only months after the IPO in January 1974 at the age of 66 and was buried in the Cheung Sha Wan Catholic Cemetery. He was survived by his three wives, eight sons (Tat-kee, Cheung-kee, Tai-kee, Fu-kee, Hon-kee, Kin-kee, Yip-kee, Pak-kee) and one daughter (Cho-kwan). (WKYP, 1974-1-3)
Article and picture of the wedding of David H.K. Chan in 1965 (WKYP, 1965-4-25)
Luen-fun was succeeded at Luen Yick by his sons. The second son David Chan Hon-kee (陳漢基) graduated from Pui Ching Middle School in HK and studied at the Sun Yat-sen University before attending university in Australia and returned to join the family business. In 1965, he married Anna Valeutinchic (韋安妮) from Australia at the St Teresa Church in Kowloon with a banquet at the Sun Ya Restaurant on Nathan Road.
In May 1973, David and his younger brother Chan Fu-kee (陳富基) went to Mauritius where they purchased a 300,000 sq ft site to build a factory for Luen Yick and acquired 50 acres to develop a resort in the tourist zone, one of the first Hong Kong firms to do so. At the time, Mauritius had many benefits as its labor cost was only one-tenth of Hong Kong and it had favorable tax treatment with the European markets. Luen Yick also received a 10-year tax exempt status which allowed it to remit its profits back to HK tax-free. The same month, another brother Chan Cheung-kee (陳祥基) represented Luen Yick as part of a HKTDC delegation to the Fashion Expo in Tokyo and Osaka. (WKYP, 1973-5-11)
In 1978, California Knitting Mill was renamed Wing Wah Plastic Works (永華塑膠廠) as it switched to plastic manufacturing and later dissolved in 2002.
In 1982, the Chan family sold the listed shell of Luen Yick, which was renamed First City Investments (第一城市). First City in turn was acquired in 1990 by Henry Sy Jr (施俊龍), the son of Filipino Chinese billionaire and SM Group founder Henry Sy and renamed Megaway Investments (菲華發展). In 1993, Megaway was renamed China Investments (中國興業).
Luen Yick Knitting was still listed in the HK Directory of Industries in 1991 with David Chan in charge and operating out of Luen Yick House. The firm was dissolved in 2003. Luen Yick House was acquired by Lai Sun, which re-developed it into the 21-story Centre 600 (陸佰中心) in 1996.
This article was first posted on 22nd February 2021.
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- Best in the Globe – Koon Chuen Kow Knitting Factory (冠全球織造廠)
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- Once Upon A Time in Mongkok: Chow Ngai Hing Knitting Factory
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