Wo Kee Hong in joint venture to open mainland showrooms for the luxury cars The ultimate status symbol of the up-and-coming young executive, a Ferrari sports car, will be available in showrooms in three of the mainland's richest cities later this year. Main board-listed car and home appliance distributor Wo Kee Hong (Holdings) plans to open the showrooms in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou through its joint venture with Italian luxury carmaker Ferrari Maserati and China Poly Group. The venture, which has exclusive rights to distribute Ferrari and Maserati cars in the mainland for the next 10 years, was formed towards the end of last year to cater to the growing demand for luxury cars by China's nouveau riche. Ferrari Maserati has a 40 per cent stake, while Wo Kee Hong and Poly Group, formerly a commercial arm of the People's Liberation Army, each have 30 per cent. Wo Kee Hong chief executive Richard Lee Man-fai is the chief executive of the joint venture to which his company has contributed US$900,000. The aim is to sell 50 to 100 Ferrari and about 40 Maserati units this year, said chief financial officer Joseph Wong Tik-tung. Until now, Ferrari car sales in the mainland have been handled via Hong Kong, where Wo Kee Hong has been the Italian firm's exclusive distributor for about a decade. 'The joint venture is in the final stages of selecting dealers. The result should be out soon,' said Mr Wong. He would not disclose the selling prices for the cars in the mainland, but they range from $1 million to $2 million in Hong Kong. Wo Kee Hong sold about 55 Ferraris and 45 Maseratis last year. Although growth of the mainland's car sector slowed to 15 per cent last year from about 70 per cent in 2003, sales in the extreme luxury sector remained strong. Last year, Bentley sales fell 22 per cent to 40 units, while Rolls-Royce sales rose 150 per cent to 25 units, Porsche sales surged 50 per cent to 120 units and Ferrari sales grew 25 per cent to 25 units, according to industry sources. Meanwhile, Mr Wong said his firm sold more than 15,000 Rogers liquid-crystal display television sets since the product was launched in Hong Kong in October last year. Sales are projected to reach 150,000 units this year, accounting for about 10 per cent of the market total, he said. The television commanded a gross profit margin of more than 20 per cent, he added. Wo Kee Hong has exclusive rights to use the originally British brand audio-visual products.