Shop king keeps it in the family

PUBLISHED : Friday, 07 July, 2000, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 07 July, 2000, 12:00am

We hear someone's been showing a bit of cheek. No, not in the hotpants-cut-too-high sense.

We refer to the shenanigans of one Dickson Poon.

Last time the king of swanky shops hit the headlines, he was selling Harvey Nichols to himself. Last year his listed company, Dickson Concepts, sold the upmarket London department store to a private firm of the chairman.

And surprise, surprise, we now hear that he is hawking the property around London property agents (with a view to just renting it back) for an asking price of GBP75 million (about HK$883 million).

That's about 40 per cent higher than the valuation mentioned last year. Good business, if you can get it.

Anyway, Mr Poon's latest antics involved his soon-to-be-spun-off Dickson Cyber Concepts. After all, this is Internet-time and his soon-to-be-launched virtual mall needed to fix up Web sites, computers and delivery vans.

Hmmm. Who to hire and how much to pay them? Eureka! With a lightbulb-in-thought-bubble flash came the answer. Why not hire the chairman's management consultancy firm and pay it HK$130 million in consulting fees? Oh, and Dickson Cyber also promised to spend HK$110 million on equipment bought only from suppliers recommended by the chairman's consultants.

And so what if everyone else out-sources such tricky stuff to specialist Internet firms? Who cares that big public companies should be able to get a better deal down at the computer store than a private management consultancy? Forget the new economy. This is clearly a Dickson concept.

More wining: We just received a magazine cutting from reader Franklin Wong, who writes to us almost every day to talk about blimps. Long story. Anyway, his latest missive included a clipping from a mainland publication. It seems Mr Wong had written a 'letter to the editor'.

It asked this question: 'Can you tell me where in Hong Kong can I get Germany's 'Graff Mosel Piersporter wines'? I now get it from Gloucester Road's Louis Restaurant at 10 per cent off table price (HK$240). Are they overcharging me?' The editor responded that he doesn't drink German wine himself, but suggested his reader give Oliver's a try.

That may not sound particularly helpful.

But we think it was a pretty good answer, coming as it did from the editor of Watch Critics - a magazine dedicated to the discussion of rare time pieces.

Hold the front page: Have you heard about Japan's 'daredevil drill of pursuing 'mysterious ships' '? No? Then you obviously forgot to consult the North Korean Central News Agency yesterday.

You should read it. It's packed with news you won't find anywhere else.

Like the reason former president Kim Il-sung built chicken factories.

Apparently he did so because he's 'a great man possessed of all the qualifications as an outstanding thinker and theoretician and illustrious leader who was possessed of everything a true man should have'.

That's one reason to dabble in poultry.

We also learned that North Korean dendrologists 'found white-seed pine-nut trees for the first time and succeeded in obtaining good-quality high-yielding species by a new method of pine-nut bud-grafting with a yielding rate 1.5 times that of an ordinary one and the shell of the white-seed pine-nut is 0.3mm thinner than others'.


Lai See likes to keep up on what North Koreans are chatting about around the coffee machine at work.

Graphic: whee07gbz