Daz­zling en­coun­ters in a once penu­ri­ous vil­lage

China Daily (Canada) - - HONG KONG -

co­in­cided with the time when Hong Kong was mov­ing its man­u­fac­tur­ing in­dus­try north­ward to es­cape soar­ing land and la­bor costs. Shen­zhen’s jew­elry in­dus­try was one that ben­e­fited from the wave,” re­called Zhang Wenyang, deputy sec­re­tary-gen­eral of the Shen­zhen Gold and Jew­elry As­so­ci­a­tion.

In the 1990s, there was a se­vere sup­ply-and-de­mand im­bal­ance as the coun­try put a lid on gold trad­ing. It was not un­til 2001 when the gov­ern­ment de­cided to lift the curbs that the sec­tor be­gan its trek to re­mark­able growth.

The jew­elry busi­ness ex­panded rapidly as a greater num­ber of play­ers threw their hats in the ring, eye­ing a piece of the pie in the boom­ing in­dus­try. By 2003, Shuibei Jew­elry Vil­lage had be­come home to more than 300 jew­elry-re­lated en­ter­prises, and the num­ber con­tin­ued to climb at a fast pace.

“In the early stages of de­vel­op­ment, Shuibei’s jew­elry busi­ness was cen­tered mostly on pro­cess­ing, which was lowskilled and low-profit. Now, many have em­barked on the jour­ney of trans­for­ma­tion and up­grade, con­cerned with brand­ing and high-end man­u­fac­tur­ing,” said Zhang.

Miao Zhiguo has deep feel­ings about the trans­for­ma­tion. He has been lead­ing his com­pany to ride the wave in the fast-chang­ing en­vi­ron­ment since 2001.

Shuibei Jew­elry Vil­lage has gone through var­i­ous pe­ri­ods of de­vel­op­ment, ac­cord­ing to Miao, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of Shen­zhen Ideal Jew­elry Co.

“Back in 2000, the main busi­ness in the area was jew­elry trade. The lo­cal in­dus­try re­lied on whole­sales and pro­cess­ing to make a liv­ing — many were run by fam­i­lies. In 2005, more and more busi­ness peo­ple re­al­ized the im­por­tance of brand­ing and fo­cused on de­vel­op­ing their own brands,” he said.

“The in­dus­try evolved to a higher level in 2010 when it be­gan in­te­grat­ing it­self with the fi­nan­cial in­dus­try. That progress has greatly pro­pelled the sec­tor’s growth.”

With the ad­van­tage of crossin­dus­try in­te­gra­tion through a list­ing on the Shen­zhen Stock Ex­change in 2015, Shen­zhen Ideal Jew­elry Co is try­ing to ap­ply high-tech to the man­u­fac­tur­ing process to en­hance ef­fi­ciency and pro­mote its growth, Miao said.

“Ev­ery time we up­grade our sys­tem, we’re able to im­prove our ef­fi­ciency by 20 per­cent.”

Mean­while, the coun­try’s am­bi­tious Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive has cre­ated fresh growth op­por­tu­ni­ties for Shuibei’s jew­elry trade.

Although coun­tries in­volved in the BRI rep­re­sent the world’s main raw ma­te­rial and con­sump­tion mar­kets in the jew­elry busi­ness, their links with the Chi­nese main­land are not very close, Liang Rui, pres­i­dent of Shuibei Jew­elry Group, pointed out.

Among the jew­elry im­ports from other coun­tries, BRI na­tions only took up 22 per­cent, while for Chi­nese jew­elry ex­ports, they ac­counted for merely 1 per­cent or less.

“This means we have enor­mous space for co­op­er­a­tion with the Belt and Road coun­tries,” Liang said.

How­ever, chal­lenges re­main for Shuibei.

“Shuibei jew­elry busi­nesses have been tak­ing the lead in de­sign, pro­duc­tion and whole­sales in the in­dus­try sup­ply chain. But, in the most prof­itable seg­ments, such as brand­ing and re­tail, they don’t get a big share of the cake,” Zhang noted.

“At the same time, the re­lent­less in­creases in Shen­zhen’s land prices and la­bor costs may force the jew­elry pro­cess­ing busi­ness to move to neigh­bor­ing places like Dong­guan and Huizhou, which have a large num­ber of in­dus­trial parks, and the lo­cal gov­ern­ments are of­fer­ing pref­er­en­tial poli­cies to at­tract busi­nesses to set­tle down there,” he said.

“It’s im­por­tant for Shuibei to ac­cel­er­ate the pace of trans­for­ma­tion and up­grade to climb up the lad­der chain to re­tain its tra­di­tional com­pet­i­tive­ness.”

More and more busi­ness peo­ple re­al­ized the im­por­tance of brand­ing and fo­cused on de­vel­op­ing their own brands.”

BILLY H.C. KWOK / BLOOMBERG

An em­ployee ar­ranges a dis­play counter in a jew­elry shop in Cen­tral. Rid­ing on the tide of the coun­try’s his­toric re­form and open­ing-up and the Hong Kong jew­elry sec­tor’s re­struc­tur­ing four decades ago, Shen­zhen’s Shuibei area has es­tab­lished it­self as a renowned jew­elry hub with its own unique mark.

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