Chinese Jewellery Giant Shutters Shenzhen Factory Amid Soaring Gold Prices and Strategic Shifts

Chinese Jewellery Giant Shutters Shenzhen Factory Amid Soaring Gold Prices and Strategic Shifts

Xiaoling Qian
3 min read

Chinese Jewellery Giant Shutters Shenzhen Factory Amid Soaring Gold Prices and Strategic Shifts

Chinese jewellery giant Chow Tai Fook Jewellery has ceased manufacturing operations at its Shenzhen factory, citing market conditions and strategic business adjustments. The sudden closure, effective from June 1, 2024, has left many employees in shock, as the company offers relocation to its Shunde facility or severance packages. This move reflects broader challenges in the jewellery industry, exacerbated by soaring gold prices and shifting consumer behavior.

Key Takeaways

  • Chow Tai Fook Jewellery ceased manufacturing at its Shenzhen factory due to strategic business shifts and market conditions.
  • Employees have the option to relocate to the Shunde factory or accept a severance package.
  • High gold prices and increased operational costs are significant factors behind the closure.
  • The company’s other facilities in Shunde and Wuhan remain operational.


Factory Closure and Employee Impact

Chow Tai Fook's decision to halt operations at the Shenzhen facility was sudden, leaving many employees unprepared. The internal notification outlined two options: relocating to the Shunde factory or accepting a severance package. Employees opting for severance will receive compensation based on their tenure, calculated as "N+3". However, those considering relocation face uncertainties, as the Shunde factory is already operating at full capacity, potentially limiting opportunities for incoming workers.

Economic and Strategic Context

The closure is part of a broader strategic shift within Chow Tai Fook, likely influenced by the high operational costs in Shenzhen. This factory was primarily focused on research and development, whereas Shunde is known for its high-quality production. The move aims to consolidate operations and reduce costs amid challenging market conditions.

Gold Prices and Market Dynamics

A critical factor in the decision is the soaring price of gold, which reached a historic high of $2,070 per ounce in the first quarter of 2024, according to the World Gold Council. This increase has raised the cost of goods sold for jewellers like Chow Tai Fook, further squeezing profit margins. The retail price of gold in China has followed this trend, making jewellery less affordable for consumers. Consequently, gold jewellery consumption in China dropped by 6% in the first quarter of 2024.

Sales Performance and Market Response

Chow Tai Fook's recent financial performance reflects these challenges. For the quarter ending March 31, 2024, the company reported a 19.5% decrease in same-store sales for jewellery, platinum, and K-gold in mainland China, and a 27.2% decrease in Hong Kong and Macau. This downturn is attributed to both high gold prices and changing consumer preferences. The company's rapid expansion in recent years, with nearly half of its mainland stores opened in the last two years, has made it more vulnerable to market fluctuations.

Industry-Wide Challenges

Chow Tai Fook is not alone in facing these issues. Competitor Chow Sang Sang has also reported decreased sales due to rising gold prices. The high cost of gold is dampening consumer spending on non-essential luxury items, forcing jewellery companies to adopt cautious financial management and strategic adjustments.

Did You Know?

  • Chow Tai Fook, founded in 1929, is one of the largest jewellers in the world, with over 28,700 employees, 83.7% of whom are based in mainland China.
  • The Shunde factory, established in 1988, was the first jewellery manufacturing facility set up in mainland China by a Hong Kong-based company.
  • Despite the current challenges, Chow Tai Fook continues to expand its presence, with over 5,734 franchise retail points in mainland China as of September 30, 2023.
  • The price of gold has significant global implications, influencing everything from consumer behavior to national economies. The recent surge in gold prices is part of a broader trend driven by economic uncertainty and inflationary pressures.

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