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Melchers (HK) Limited

Although the HKGCC's role in the trading life of Melchers (HK) Ltd. has diminished somewhat, John Borland, managing director of the company, still believes the relationship is an important one.

"The HKGCC is a venerable institution -- our history and the HKGCC's goes back a long way," he said.

Melchers was founded in 1806 by Anton Friedrich Melchers as a private partnership in Brenen, Germany. It concentrated on foreign trade in North and Central America during the first 60 years, but this focus shifted to the Far East with the establishment of a branch in Hong Kong in 1866.

Being one of the most prominent German trading firms in Hong Kong, Melchers (HK) Ltd., became a member of the Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce in 1869.

Mr Borland said the HKGCC was extremely important to them before the German Industry and Commerce opened up two decades ago.

"Up to about 20 years ago the HKGCC was a hub of commercial and trading activities for us. We would seek trading customers and partners there and it was the only place to get Certificates of Origin for trading. However since the German Industry and Commerce opened that became more relevant to our needs," he said.

Mr Borland stressed, however, that the relationship between Melchers (HK) Ltd., and the HKGCC is still valuable.

"We play quite an active role in attending Chamber luncheons and roundtables which often feature very useful and topical speakers. We also utilise the training seminars for some of our staff," he said.

In 1869 the Hong Kong branch of Melchers was responsible for general trading activities and acting as a commissioning agent. Soon after they opened their first office at 2 Granham Street in Hong Kong, the old firm of Dent and Company failed. This provided an opportunity for them to acquire Dent and Company's old premises which was larger and at a more convenient location on Pedder's Wharf.

The business quickly prospered with the continuing development of China trade and in 1877 a branch was established in Shanghai with four further branches in China by 1900. The success of the Far East business saw the managing partner, Mr Friesland, become a director of the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation in 1872.

The Hong Kong office was re-established in 1952 following the group's inactivity during the war years although the business was not substantially re-built until the early 1960s. The business was initially based on exports from China to Europe, but the development of the region's manufacturing industry saw the growth of the company's machinery import business.

Today, the company remains focused on the export of textiles and sundries to Europe and the import of machinery, power tools and industrial materials into the Greater China region.

"The company's success will continue to be based on the prosperous trading history of the region and its ability to adapt to the changing business and political conditions. However, traditional traders are a dying breed. Increasingly you cannot just be the middleman but have to offer value-added service as well," he said.

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