Who says business can't be warm and selfless?
LANE Crawford yesterday opened its latest venture - a 'corporate gifts' showroom, ideal for executives who want to give their customers little knick-knacks to remember them by.
For instance, a $1 million crystal fountain; or a crystal globe - a snip at $1.8 million.
Or, if you're a cheapskate, a Mikitmoto gold-plated - gold-plated, note - key ring for $160.
The idea is that an executive can walk in and say: 'I want to br . . . err, bring my client a great gift costing about $50,000' and the Lane Crawfordettes will present a range of gifts that fit the bill.
Most of it is fairly obvious stuff. Blotters, for instance - just the thing for those who still write with a brush or quill pen.
And lots of big crystal ornaments, such as a large abstract Steuben crystal mobius prism for $89,000.
Lane Crawford's Allison Pyrah explained that engraving, which has to be done by the factory, can be a problem with the crystal items.
Firstly, the skilled workers who produce these abstract crystal creations aren't particularly excited about having 'Golden Casino Insurance Company (HK) Sales Executive of the Year 1994 - presented to Jerry Chan' engraved on their masterworks.
Secondly, it would be rather awkward if the winner was actually called Jenny Chen.
The Independent Commission Against Corruption's sample code of conduct gives quite a bit of guidance when it comes to the 'acceptance and offering of advantages', but we've decided that these have no relevance to this superb showroom and its efficient, highly-trained staff.
Incidentally, thanks for the briefcase, Lane Crawford.
Crookbook 'AS in previous centuries, the merchants followed the flags of the explorers, so modern international fraudsters follow the changes of the world and the chances created for business.
'It has always been so, and probably always will.' This is the poetic opening paragraph of our favourite piece of unsolicited mail, sent to us and quite a few others in the territory by Hoffman, the Dutch detective agency.
It's the agency's monthly, Detectives' Tips for Business and Industry, which is supposed to help firms combat crime, but can be full of tips for naughty people, too.
This month's issue opens with a warning about international fraud.
'If you are approached by someone completely unknown to you who invites you to make the strike of your life in some distant land, remember this article so that you do not fall head over heels into some unmanageable financial adventure.' Funny, but when we read that paragraph, the words 'emerging markets' came to mind.
Flour people WELL, quite a few people have been talking about the problems over at Chesterfield, and how the company can best get itself out of its spot of bother.
After chatting to a few people, it would seem the consensus view is that the firm should stick to the businesses it knows best.
For instance, Chesterfield has interests in flour milling in China, so to buy a further four or five flour mills would make sense.
If it didn't know where to buy them, perhaps the firm could approach a major China corporation, or the Chiu family, controller of the Far East group.
The other problem is that the company doesn't have a chairman. What it needs is a well-known figure able to ride the choppy waters.
Perhaps it should approach Charles Lee Yeh-kwong, who is stepping down as chairman of the stock exchange, or some other very major figure who could reassure the authorities that this is a company that is really going places.
Scrapbooks HONGKONG Telecom is building stripey castle in the street out of its new phone books again - and a greenie has complained about the company's offer to recycle the old ones.
Having seen three of the distribution sites, the greenie noticed that there seemed to be no facilities for handing the old ones back for recycling - despite the claim on the little slip that arrives with the telephone bill saying this is possible.
'I want to hand my old directory back,' the greenie said.
'It's not necessary. Just throw it away,' a Telecom worker replied, adding that it was a doubly pointless exercise because Hongkong Telecom itself merely threw all the old directories away once they'd collected them from any customers who insisted on handing them back.
Well, Telecom's headquarters says this isn't true. But it is noticeable that unlike last year, it's not giving 50 cents to charity for every book that is returned.
Spoilsports THE new directories also present this year's chance to scientifically sample the size of the territory's libido.
How? Simply by counting the pages of massage ads.
For instance, this year's Hong Kong Island Buying Guide has 11. The previous one had 14.
The droop is similar in the racy ads under Escort Services, and is repeated in the Kowloon directory.
Maybe some government task force has been at work trying to cool the overheated economy.