Fri, Aug 27, 2004 - Page 10 News List

Teng launches upscale new furnishings store

By Jackie Lin  /  STAFF REPORTER

Working House founder Simon Teng said yesterday that his new home furnishings store, Piin, is designed to appeal to mature consumers who appreciate quality.


Almost two years after leaving the home-furnishing chain that he founded, Working House (生活工場), Simon Teng (鄧學中) decided to make a comeback with Piin (品東西家居), a new brand of home decor stores.

Teng, dressed in traditional Chinese-style attire, said at the launching ceremony yesterday that he's targeting higher-income customers as his main patrons and pins his hope on "a fusion of Eastern and Western fashion" to help Piin compete head-to-head with Working House, the nation's largest furnishings chain.

"Unlike the Swedish IKEA or other imported brands, Piin has a better understanding of how and what Taiwanese people want to decorate and furnish their homes," he said.

Teng said Working House mainly caters to customers between 15 and 25 years old, while IKEA attracts customers of ages 25 to 35. Instead, Piin targets those 30 and older, who are more economically independent and place quality before other considerations.

In December 2002, Teng resigned as chairman of Working House, which he established in 1994. He declined to comment on his departure yesterday except to say that "I felt at that time there should be another brand name to cater to a different market, because Working House has reached saturation with more than 100 outlets and development of a secondary label, Living Plus."

In February, Teng formed a 50-50 joint venture with Web Point Co (管家婆科技), a subsidiary of Acer Inc, with NT$100 million in capital to establish Piin.

Teng said yesterday that he thinks the new venture may break even in one year, and that he hopes to expand the brand to 12 stores by 2007.

He said he also plans to launch the brand to tap rising consumer spending in China next year.

Working House president Dennis Hsu (許宏榮) appeared unfazed in the face of new competition from his erstwhile partner, saying that their different product mixes and styles will not erode each other's customer base.

"Actually, the cluster effect often brings in more business for Working House," Hsu said.

Citing the outlet in Taipei's New York New York shopping mall as an example, Hsu said one-outlet revenues this year have soared 70 percent since another player, MUJI (Taiwan) Corp (無印良品), opened a furnishings outlet in the same building in late May.

"Through comparison, customers will know which is more suitable for them," he said.

The new 800-ping (2,600m2) Piin outlet is located on the sixth floor of Asiaworld Shopping Mall (環亞購物廣場) at the intersection of Nanjing East Road and Tunhua North Road -- one floor above Working House's flagship store.

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