Fri, Jun 04, 2004 - Page 11 News List

Fubon Financial plans to start TV shopping network

By Jackie Lin  /  STAFF REPORTER

Fubon Financial Holding Co (富邦金控), Taiwan's second-largest financial services company by market value, is working to invest in television shopping services and hopes to launch the project by the end of this year, a company official said yesterday.

"The business potential in this field is remarkable," said Victor Kung (龔天行), the company's chief financial officer.

However, he refused to disclose any details -- such as which television channel it will work with and what kind of products it will sell -- reasoning that the company is still evaluating the situation and no conclusion has been reached.

"We would like to take a leading role in the business, be it the product mix presented or the choice of the partners," he said, confirming Chinese-language reports that the Fubon channel will focus on financial merchandise, such as insurance.

As a major shareholder of Taiwan Cellular Corp (台灣大哥大), Fubon Financial is likely to have the mobile operator take charge of the call center business, Kung said.

Fubon is not alone in jumping on the TV shopping bandwagon. Uni-President Enterprise Corp (統一企業), the nation's leading food maker, is also eager to tap the fast-growing business.

Under the leadership of chairman Kao Ching-yuan (高清愿), the company has constructed a network using both physical and virtual channels, including 7-Eleven convenience stores, the delivery service Takkyubin (宅急便), the health and cosmetics retailer Cosmed (康是美), Starbucks coffee shops, the Web-based bookseller (博客來網路書店) and the Bcity (貝可市場) online shopping platform.

Counting on its predominance in the nation's retail business, Uni-President is in talks with several cable TV channels and hopes to commence airing the programs in October, according to a company official, who declined to be named.

The nation's TV shopping sector now has only one player -- Eastern Home Shopping Network (東森購物), which has seen a 30-fold increase in revenue over a span of four years.

"This is a tough sector, not a cash cow as the outside world reckons," said Randy Lee (李傳偉), vice president of the network, which has expanded into three TV channels, broadcasting, catalogues and the Internet.

Eastern Home's TV channels will further expand to five in January next year, Lee said.

Noting that the market needs more than one player to bring about healthy competition and further benefit consumers, Lee said the nation's market scope in TV shopping should be able to expand to NT$75 billion annually and his company expects to reach NT$38 billion at the end of this year, more than double last year's NT$15 billion.

He said the key factor is to ensure the quality of the products and offer the best after-sales services.

"We spent a long time strength-ening consumers' confidence in TV shopping. It's no easy task," he said.

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