THE brother-and-sister pair that runs Swiss luxury watch and jewellery house Chopard has picked up an office floor at Tong Building in Orchard Road for S$25.5 million.
The price works out to S$3,713 per square foot on freehold strata area for the 13th floor of the 19-level building located between Lucky Plaza and The Paragon.
While the purchase from fashion retailing group Kwang Sia was made through a privately-held vehicle controlled by Karl-Friedrich and Caroline Scheufele, who are the co-presidents of Chopard, talk in industry circles here is that the 6,867 sq ft space in the heart of Singapore's traditional prime shopping belt will likely be used for Chopard's office eventually. Chopard (Asia) currently occupies leased premises at Suntec Tower One.
Kwang Sia uses part of Tong Building's 13th floor and is seen as leasing back this space from the Scheufeles until some time next year, when it moves to another location. Kwang Sia is expected to plough some of the sales proceeds to its core retail business.
BT understands that the Scheufele family has been in search of their own premises for Chopard's Singapore office for some time now.
Watch industry observers were not surprised by the transaction assuming Chopard uses the premises for its business. They suggest the transaction could be part of a strategy that has seen the Scheufele family or Chopard acquiring some of the premises where it operates its business.
In 2014, Chopard bought the Hotel de Vendome in Paris to ensure the group will always be able to keep its boutique - Chopard's flagship store in Paris - on the ground floor of the luxury hotel, which boasts the prestigious No. 1 Place Vendome address. The purchase of the hotel also provided a platform for the family to branch into another segment of the luxury lifestyle business.
Mr Karl-Friedrich Scheufele is involved in the wine business, including a chain of wine shops under the Le Caveau de Bacchus name in Switzerland. He is also a car enthusiast and has reportedly forged brand partnerships with Porsche.
Sister Caroline, who is also Chopard's artistic director, is often in the limelight with celebrities. She is behind Chopard's collaboration with the Cannes Film Festival, according to Wikipedia. Their parents, Karl and Karin, bought Chopard in 1963.
When contacted, Sammi Lim, director (investment properties) at CBRE, confirmed the group brokered the deal via private treaty but declined to comment further.
Ownership of Tong Building is tightly held. Major owners include The Hour Glass, whose headquarters is in the building, as well as Rolex, which has a showroom and service centre on the ground floor as well as offices above.
The last previous sale in the building was that of half of the 18th floor, which is a duplex unit (leading up to half of the 19th floor). It changed hands for S$3,389 psf in 2010.
The 19-storey building was originally built as commercial space on the first 14 levels and apartments above, but through the years, the building was changed to full commercial use. Completed in 1978, the property underwent a major refurbishment in 1993-1994. It also received a touch-up a few years ago.
Kwang Sia is believed to have bought the 13th floor in 1992. The group was set up by Ang Mia Yang and his son Keng Hui in the 1950s. It sold vinyl records at one time but has since entered into other businesses and today its core business is in luxury fashion. Its network spans Singapore, Thailand and China and the brands it retails include MaxMara, MAX&Co., Marella, iBlues, DSquared2, BAPE, Y-3, HUGO BOSS and Versace, according to information on its website.