Chanel as collateral: Hong Kong firm gives handbag-backed loans
By Stefanie McIntyre
HONG KONG (Reuters) - In designer-obsessed Hong Kong, keeping up appearances can be hard on the pocketbook. One company has an answer: cash-strapped shoppers can get money quickly by pawning their Gucci, Chanel, Hermès or Louis Vuitton luxury handbags.
Yes Lady Finance, a mortgage brokerage, offers loans within half an hour of up to 50 percent of the new bag's value, giving customers four months to repay at an interest rate of 4 percent.
If the client fails to pay back the loan, the bag is sold by the company's retail arm Milan Station Holdings Ltd at one of its second-hand designer stores.
But most people repay to retrieve their prized possessions, said Byron Yiu, Yes Lady Finance's chairman and chief executive.
"Milan Station buys handbags. We give cash to our clients to buy their items for good. And then we realized many clients attach a sentimental value to their bags," he said.
"They don't want to sell them for good but they need money. So we came up with the idea of running a financial company that lets people use their handbags to borrow money ... It turns out to be a very popular service."
Loans start at the equivalent of around $200 and can go far higher, depending on the quality of the bag. This month, Yiu said, one client brought in a crocodile-skin handbag and got a loan for HK$250,000 ($32,200).
"We have both male and female clients. The majority bring relatively posh handbags," he said. "We have seen people bringing several of these handbags here to get a big sum." Continued...