Wo Kee Cheung (和記祥) and Wo Fung Cheung (和豐祥)

York Lo: Wo Kee Cheung (和記祥) and Wo Fung Cheung (和豐祥)

Woo Kee Chung Image 1 York Lo

Left: Ad for Wo Kee Cheung in 1964 (WKYP, 1964-1-3); right: Thank you ad by Wo Fung Cheung to guests attending the opening of its Tai Po Road branch in 1964 (WKYP, 1964-4-5)

In the early 1960s, Canton Trust & Commercial Bank (廣東信託商業銀行) was one of the most aggressive banks in Hong Kong which fueled growth of many businesses covered earlier including Chan Chak-man’s knitwear factories and Lee Wen-yuen’s British Textiles (see part 5 of tailor series) and also brought them down when the bank collapsed during the banking crisis of 1965. This article covers Cheung Sing-cheung (張勝祥) and his younger brothers Cheung Kwai-kuen (張桂權) and Cheung Siu-wo (張紹和), who with the backing of Canton Trust grew their group of businesses ranging from threads to jewelry to real estate in the early 1960s, all with “Wo” (as in the youngest brother Cheung Siu-wo) and “Cheung” (as in the eldest brother Cheung Sing-cheung) in its names. In all these businesses, Cheung Sing-cheung as the eldest served as chairman, Cheung Kwai-kuen as the second eldest as vice chairman while Cheung Siu-wo served as managing director.

Natives of Nanhai in Guangdong province, the Cheung brothers made their initial fortune in the fabric and threads business with Wo Kee Cheung, which was known for its “Ching Cheung” and “Five Goat” brand of threads. The firm had its factory on Canton Road in Tai KokTsui and distributed nylon, fabric and silk in addition to its own brand of threads. In November 1963, Woo Kee Cheung opened its new office at 15 Shek Kip Mei Street in Sham Shui Po. The guest of honor at the opening ceremony was Chan Bock-hing (陳伯興), the vice chairman of Canton Trust (as its chairman Sir Tsun-Nin Chau was only a figurehead, Chan was the mastermind behind the bank to be covered in greater details later) and in attendance were many business leaders of the time including Kwok Chan, Hui Oi-chow, Chow Yau (see article), Chiu Lut-sau and many others.

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The Cheung brothers and Chan Bock-hing (center) at the opening of Wo Kee Cheung’s new office in 1963 (WKYP, 1963-11-4)

With its profits from threads and fabrics, the brothers decided to expand into the jewelry business by launching Wo Fung Cheung Jeweller& Goldsmith (和豐祥金行)in 1964. In January 1964, Wo Fung Cheung opened its main store at 363 Castle Peak Road with Chan Bock-hing once again as the guest of honor. Aside from jewelry, Wo Fung Cheung also sold watches and offered money changing, property brokerage, mortgage and trust services. This was quickly followed by the opening of a branch at 150 Tai Po Road.

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The Cheung brothers with their backer Chan Bock-hing at the opening of Wo Fung Cheung’s main store in 1964. Right to left: Cheung Sing-cheung, Chan Bock-hing, Cheung Kwai-kuen, Cheung Siu-wo (WKYP, 1964-1-26)

Aside from threads and jewelry, the Cheung brothers also incorporated Wo Fat Cheung (和發祥) in 1963, which was involved in the development of at least two properties in Kwun Tong in 1964 – a 13-story industrial building at Lot 426 and a 14-story industrial building at 516 Wai Yip Street.  The brothers also incorporated Wo Tai Cheung (和泰祥有限公司)in 1963 which was involved in the trading of jewelry.

Of the three brothers, the most socially active was Cheung Kwai-kuen who was advisor to the Nam Hoi Natives Association and life honorary advisor of the Chung Sing Benevolent Society. When he celebrated his daughter’s one month in September 1963, he donated $1000 to the Wah KiuYat Po children scholarship fund, $8000 to the Chinese Women’s Association and $1000 to the Pok Oi Hospital. (WKYP, 1963-9-13)

Not much information is available about the Cheung brothers’ businesses after the collapse of the Canton Trust Bank in 1965.  As a firm, Wo Kee Cheung Ltd was incorporated in 1963 and dissolved in 1971. Wo Tai Cheung was dissolved in 1973 followed by Wo Fung Cheung in 1974 and Wo Fat Cheung in 1980.

This article was first posted on 18th December 2020.

Related Indhhk articles:

  1. Famous HK Tailors (Part Five) – Other Notable Chinese Firms (James S. Lee, Tung Sun, Tung Hing, British Textiles, Maiwo Yang, Tom Bros, James Lau, Smiley Chow and Kwun Kee)
  2. Chow Yau (周有, 1912-1983) – Vertical Integrator of the HK Death Care Industry
  3. Cheung Lai Chun Jewellery and Shing Chai Tong Herb Co.
  4. J. Ullmann (烏利文) – Swiss Watchmaker and Jeweler in HK and China
  5. Lau Shiu-yuen (劉紹源): Jeweler and Developer from the 1960s
  6. From Curios and Jewelry to Soy Milk and Cinemas – the 150 year old saga of the family of Shiu Lock Hing
  7. Tai Hing Enterprise (大興企業) – Property Developer from the 1950s and 1960s
  8. H.K. Wah Yuen Investment (華源置業) – Leading Property Developer in the 1950s and 1960s
  9. Woo Ping (胡炳) – Weaving and Real Estate Pioneer
  10. Cho Shiu-chung (曹紹松, 1922-2011) – Real Estate Developer and Philanthropist

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