It’s not unusual to find gold shops sprouting in the crowded streets of Hong Kong at this time of the year, even if this year’s Golden Week is not expected to be so golden.
But many people are a bit confused about the new kid on the block, Zhou Liu Fu Jewelry (周六福珠寶), a Guangzhou-based gold and jewelry chain which is set to open its first Hong Kong store on Nathan Road in Mong Kok.
For unlike Shanghai-listed chain Lao Feng Xiang (上海老鳳祥), China’s largest gold chain, its name is familiar in a different kind of way.
Some think – mistakenly – that the newcomer is a joint venture between Chow Tai Fook (周大福) and Luk Fook (六福) because its name sounds like a combination of the two famous Hong Kong-listed companies.
Given the trademark similarities, it is quite understandable why Zhou Liu Fu is not a welcome neighbor.
Luk Fook chief executive Wong Wai-sheung said there are over 30 company names derived from “Fook” (福), “Luk Fook” (六福) and “Chow” (周) in the mainland, and this has led to much confusion among consumers.
“We lodge a lot of complaints about this in an effort to stop them from taking undue advantage of our brand and reputation,” Wong told local media.
“Some cases were successful but, unfortunately, because of the sheer size of China, our efforts seemed to be just a drop in the bucket.”
Wong said some gold and jewelry retailers claim to be Hong Kong brands but, suspiciously, they only have one store or office in the city.
They are obviously trying to mislead consumers, and the mainland commercial bureau must do something about it, he said.
Zhou Liu Fu was set up in 2004 with its registered address in Ngau Tou Kok in Kowloon.
Using the franchisee model, Zhou Liu Fu has expanded quickly.
Its shop in Hong Kong, with a total area of 3,200 square feet, will be its 1,721st “flagship” store, the company says in a press release.
(It makes you wonder why a company needs so many flagship stores.)
Zhou Liu Fu attempted, but failed, to register Zhou Liu Fu Jewelry International in Hong Kong, but it was eventually allowed to use “China Zeli (Saturday Fook) HK Diamant Jewelry Group”.
In case you’re wondering about its name, “Saturday Fook” is the direct English translation of “Zhou Liu”.
Another disappointment: Zhou Liu Fu is famous for hiring sexy salesladies – some describe them as “half-nude” models – but this is not likely to happen during the opening of its first store in the city, given the possibility that the practice might violate Hong Kong’s relatively stricter statutes.
Anyway, if you think only foreign companies suffer from intellectual property issues in China, think again.
Some Hong Kong companies are just helpless in stopping that even in their home turf.
Luckily, that doesn’t stop us from enjoying a Happy National Day and Golden Week.
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