An audience with Simon Chiang – a most amazing man

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Martin Moodie
Martin Moodie is the Founder & Chairman of The Moodie Report.

Meet Ever Rich Group Chairman and CEO Simon Chiang, one of Taiwan’s – and travel retail’s – great philanthropists.

I had the absolute privilege of chatting with him this week in Taipei at Ever Rich Duty Free Shop Corporation headquarters, along with his charming and engaging son Kevin (below) who is Vice President of the Group.

The company has historically had a low public profile (outside of Taiwan) in our industry but that deserves to change.

Not only is Ever Rich already a dynamic and successful retailing force, both downtown and on-airport, but it is set to open two of Asia’s most important duty free complexes – one in Neihu, Taipei this October (first below) and one in the Kinmen Islands (next below) in 2013.

More important, though, is the company’s astounding, perhaps unrivalled commitment to Taiwanese and international society through an intensive, unrelenting programme of Corporate Social Responsibility, one embraced with a fervour by its owners, management and staff.

Ever Rich has helped the people of Taiwan cope with numerous natural disasters; it gives back constantly to the local community via educational and environmental programmes involving its entire team working as volunteers; and it has often been to the fore with international causes, such as the Japanese earthquake & tsunami and travel retail charity, Hand in Hand for Haiti (to which it gave US$100,000).

[Ever Rich mounted a major aid effort following the 2011 Japanese earthquake and tsunami]

[Helping to clean up the shore on the Kinmen Islands]

Underlining its sense of nationhood and community, Ever Rich is also doing some amazing work on the public service and gate areas (pictured below) at Taipei Taoyuan International Airport Terminals 1 and 2 (which it is responsible for developing under a unique contract with the airport authority).

My recommendation to every airport CEO and consumer and commercial Director in the world is to buy a ticket to Taiwan and spend a few hours wandering around the airport. I have never seen an airport like it in terms of how the commercial is fused with the cultural, the international with the local and the sheer effort to create a true Sense of Place. I cursed myself that I had such a fleeting experience there (I was so enchanted with my tour that I made my plane just as the gate was closing).

All this has been driven by Simon Chiang, a boy from a poor farming family who left school at the age of 12 after his father died of cancer. He was sent to the city by his mother who encouraged him to work in a factory and learn how to make leathergoods.

From this most humble of backgrounds he has created a mighty business empire but he has never, ever forgotten where he came from, or his obligation to return his good favour to society.  I think he is one of the most wonderful men I have ever met and I left our meeting inspired. I was deeply honoured that he spared me time for what he said was his first-ever interview with the business press.

I’ll bring you full details in a profile of Ever Rich DFS in the next issue of The Moodie Report Print Edition. I promise you, it will be a compelling read.

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