Moving Forward

This Hong Kong luxury brand has become a global phenomenon

Tai Ping Carpets has been supplying luxury floor covering to a global clientele for nearly 60 years

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 03 May, 2016, 10:04pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 03 May, 2016, 10:04pm

Tom Hanks and Brad Pitt have walked on them, Britain’s royal family have too, as have countless visitors to hotels and casinos in Hong Kong and elsewhere.

Tai Ping Carpets is one of the few Hong Kong home-grown luxury brands that have entered the world of palaces, luxury hotels, private jets and the homes of movie stars.

Set up in 1957 by seven businessmen led by Lawrence Kadoorie of the famous Hong Kong business dynasty, the company initially aimed to provide jobs for skilled traditional carpet workers who came as refugees from the mainland.

The Kadoorie family still holds a majority stake, while the company listed on the Hong Kong stock exchange in 1973.

The company’s logo is a tent, which refers to an incident in the late 1950s when it received an order from Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in Hollywood for what was the largest carpet it had ever made.

It had to put up a tent to house the manufacturing process, and managed to deliver the carpet in time and undamaged despite a typhoon.

It designs, manufactures and sells carpets under six brands, including Tai Ping Carpets, and Cogolin.

Its factory was first located in Tai Po in the New Territories, then very much a village. When the mainland began opening up its markets in the late 1970s, Tai Ping began to move there and since 1991 all its manufacturing sites are in the south of the mainland, including the city of Xiamen.

Overseas expansion followed, and Tai Ping opened a store in Saint-Germain in Paris in 1980s, and entered the US market 2003. It opened its Shanghai flagship store in 2014.

Hong Kong remains its headquarters and it has a showroom in the Prince’s Building in Central.

Its current chief executive, James Kaplan, who is exactly the same age as the company, formerly worked in a luxury furniture firm. He joined Tai Ping Carpets in the year of the Sars respiratory illness outbreak, which severely dented economic activity and turned the city into a sea of face masks as citizens sought to avoid the illness.

He has since visited the city often but remained based in New York.

Kaplan loves the working spirit of Hong Kongers.

“I also enjoy the mountains and the harbour. It is also very easy to travel to other Asian cities. The food and dim sum is great. The only complaint is that I cannot find good bagels and pizza. If I could have good New York pizza and bagels, I would stay in Hong Kong full time,” he said.