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What a night. What an occasion.
Over the past quarter of a century or so, I’ve been privileged to attend many wonderful industry events. Last night’s Ever Rich Duty Free Shop 18th anniversary Gala Dinner was one that will live in my memory forever.
The event was held at the Ever Rich Duty Free Plaza in the Neihu district of Taipei, which had its Grand Opening earlier in the day (more of that in a subsequent blog).
[Top: With the gracious Ever Rich hostesses; Below: With Green Yip, Area Manager Greater China, Asia Pacific Travel Retail, LVMH Fragrance Brands and Fiona Huang, Assistant Buyer, Ever Rich Duty Free]
Guests were treated to a VIP viewing of the magnificent Ever Rich Art Gallery, dubbed ‘The Mini National Palace Museum’, housed in the Plaza and open only to private guests, not the general public.
This represents one of the great collections of Chinese art, room after room of magnificent old and contemporary pieces, from magnificent jade carvings, to majestic Buddahs, to stone and wood carvings of such intricacy they take your breath away.
And then the celebrations began. Ever Rich is one of travel retail’s top ten travel players by turnover and one of its best. In terms of its commitment to Corporate Social Responsibility it simply has no rival.
Chairman Simon Chiang and his son Kevin both spoke powerfully, often poignantly, and sometimes emotionally about that commitment last night. “This year marks not only 18 years of Ever Rich in business but 18 years of giving back to society,” said Kevin, an extraordinary young man playing a progressively more influential role in the company, and in whose hands its future is assured.
Simon Chiang is a man among men. In our book ‘Ever Rich at 18 – Towards a Bright Future’, launched last night, we tell the tale of how a poor boy from rural Taiwan grew to become one of the country’s most successful businessmen. It’s as compelling a story as you’re ever likely to hear, and yet he has never forgotten his roots nor lost his humility.
Those factors have translated into a companywide commitment to Corporate Social Responsibility that embraces three charitable foundations – dedicated to the poor, education and tourism – and everyone in Ever Rich, from the Chairman through to the newest employee, is committed wholeheartedly to each cause.
You can read this story in Ever Rich at 18 (click here). It’s a story that needed to be told.
Footnote: In an hour or so, many of last night’s guests (me included) are headed for the Kinmen Islands just off the coast of Mainland China (it’s just a few kilometres off Xiamen) a small archipelago of several islands administered by Taiwan. There the company is building the Ever Rich Shopping Mall & Hotel, a profoundly ambitious duty free, general retail and hotel complex – one that combines extensive shopping space, luxurious accommodation, fine dining, art, culture and entertainment.
The NT$5 billion (US$175 million) project, whose first phase opens in 2014, will evoke much that is unique to the island: its battleground history, southern Fujian influences, migratory birds and famous Kaoliang liquor.
It seems like a massive investment for a place where tourism is still in its infancy. But as the past 18 years tell us, Simon Chiang is a man ahead of his time. Another great story is brewing.