Festival helps light up businessman's profits

Updated: 2010-12-23 11:38

By Shi Jing (China Daily)

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SHANGHAI - While Christmas was still like a fairy tale to most people in China in the early 1990s, Gong Yuequan, then in his mid-30s, saw it differently.

To him, the festive season provided an opportunity for business, and he became the first person to sell Christmas decorations in his hometown of Yiwu, a small coastal city in East China's Zhejiang province.

"This festival was seldom celebrated or even heard of in Yiwu," he said.

"But as my parents have had a Christmas-decoration business in Shenzhen for years, it struck me that it might be a good idea to start my own business here."

Gong, now in his early 50s, moved his parents' business to Yiwu in 1993. It's now one of China's largest exporters of Christmas decorations, with annual sales of about 100 million yuan ($15 million).

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Like many of the thousands of exporters in China's industrial heartland, the founder and general manager of Zhejiang Youlide Arts and Crafts Company has been troubled by dwindling overseas orders, losses from fluctuating currency rates and rising costs, mainly caused by increasing wages.

But he's not depressed. "I am confident that my business will pick up sooner than the others once the global economy begins to show signs of recovery because Christmas is important to my customers," he said.

Gong, like many other small wholesalers in Yiwu, started his business by renting a store in the Yiwu International Trade Center in 1993.

His company began attracting orders from Hangzhou, Shanghai and Beijing, and some European countries, such as Germany and the Netherlands, by emerging with new designs and patterns.

"Actually, the export business accounts for most of our sales," Gong said.

"We are mostly involved in domestic sales for the three months from October to December. And for the rest of the year, we are occupied with the export business, making new designs, sending samples and signing contracts."


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