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Keeping an Eye on Trends

Population aging is a concern for many companies across Asia. But for Stelux Group, which includes the watch and eyewear brands City Chain, Optical 88 and eGG Optical Boutique, this shift is creating opportunities for growth.

“All businesses are very much affected by this inevitable trend,” said Chairman and CEO Joseph Wong, who succeeded his father at the family firm after finishing his master’s degree.

“The local workforce is diminishing and we can no longer solve problems by merely throwing more staff at them. Businesses need to change and adapt to the changing demographics.”

But where others see problems, Wong sees opportunity, especially in the optical industry. As the average age of the general population creeps up, people are more likely to need the services and products offered.

“At Optical 88, the majority of our customers used to belong to the 20-50 age group. Today, many of our customers are 50-60 years old.”

Wong also pointed out that more and more people are remaining active into their 60s and beyond which is helping to drive sales. “There is a great demand for quality products that cater for such a lifestyle.”

Another shift he has noticed is an increased interest in health issues, which also plays to the company’s strengths. “Healthcare and wellness have become popular topics and offer major opportunities,” Wong said.

To capitalize on these changes, Optical 88 has expanded into the ear-care sector, and now provides professional hearing examinations and hearing aids at its stores. This move has been a great success for the company, and the group now employs around  one tenth of the professional audiologists in Hong Kong, who are stationed fluidly around the Optical 88 stores in the city.

“The response has been overwhelming – even I would need to make a reservation if I needed a test,” Wong said. The goal is to turn Optical 88 into a comprehensive eye and ear-care wellness store.

Established in Hong Kong in 1963, the Stelux Group started business initially as a watch component manufacturer, exporting stainless steel components overseas. In the 1980s, the company ventured into retail with a focus on watches and eyewear, and its brands soon became familiar names across Hong Kong.

Since taking over the running of the company, Wong has been bringing in his own ideas and leading the group’s transformation as its customer base has evolved.

Another major change in recent years has been the huge rise, and then more recently, a drop off in visitors coming to Hong Kong from the Chinese Mainland – and their changing shopping habits.

Wong noted that customer behavior has substantially changed since the peak years of Mainland visitors.

“Our customers have become much more sophisticated and discerning. Gone are the days when they were simply spenders – many are now looking for ‘wow’ shopping experiences,” he said.

“Nowadays, people do not necessarily look for the most luxurious and branded products. Instead, they look for products that fit their personal style; products that complement their character.”

To cater to this trend, eGG, one of the firm’s optical lines, offers single-brand lenses made in-house, catering to fast-fashion trends. Its brand philosophy is “fun, fresh and fashionable.”

Stelux has also refreshed its stores, reducing the number of shops overall while increasing the size of the remaining outlets. This transformation aims to provide the best service and a pleasant shopping experience to customers, he said.

Another battlefront is e-commerce. Stelux intends to kick-start a proprietary e-commerce platform for eGG this year and also plans to integrate its online platforms and offline shops. The group has also shifted its marketing strategy, moving most of its advertising to social media.

Managing the transformation of the group, which has more than 3,000 employees spread across different countries, is not an easy task. As the head of the company, Wong applies his own philosophy to leadership.

“I consider myself a ‘servant leader’,” he said. “I often tell my employees that I’m here to serve them, to help them achieve their goals and to enable them to reach their full potential.

“My role is not only to lead and instruct, but also to support and facilitate.” 


Company: Stelux Holdings International Ltd

HKGCC Membership No.:HKS0181


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