Hing Wa Lee Jewelers in Southern California has built two of the most prosperous independent watch stores in the country by targeting affluent resident and visiting Chinese watch customers.
Despite 95% of its sales going to Chinese customers, the company survived the Chinese crackdown on gifting watches to government officials and is currently riding out the storm caused by President Trump’s trade negotiations with Beijing.
And it has an appetite for expansion, as Hing Wa Lee’s chief executive David Lee revealed to WatchPro in our Big Interview to be published in November.
“We are actively looking for acquisitions, and I would welcome inquiries from businesses that are looking to sell,” he states.
Hing Wa Lee has two prestige watch superstores in Los Angeles County, East of Downtown LA: a 15,000 square foot showroom in San Gabriel and a 22,000 square foot space 20 miles to the East in Walnut that are big enough to accommodate busloads of Chinese tourists visiting at the same time.
Both have Rolex as their anchor brand, in addition to Audemars Piguet, Cartier, Omega and around 20 other prestigious Swiss watch marques.
They are part of the Hing Wa Lee Group, which is predominately a commercial real estate company.
Mr Lee believes the market in the United States will continue to consolidate as the biggest brands aim to work with a smaller number of multiple and independent retail companies, and he wants to be sure Hing Wa Lee is positioned for the future shape of the market.
Asked whether he would consider acquisitions outside of California, and whether the businesses would have to be authorized dealers for the biggest brands, he replies:
“We would consider acquisitions outside this area and, no, it would not have to be a company that stocks Rolex.”