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Our History

In August 1850, two enterprising Scots, Thomas Ash Lane and Ninian Crawford, set up a shop in a makeshift bamboo structure on Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbour that traded, auctioned and sold provisions to visiting ships’ crews as well as British Navy staff and their families. Within its first year, the business expanded and opened a permanent premises, becoming the British Colony’s first department store.

Since that time, Lane Crawford has occupied a number of landmarks along Des Voeux Road and Queen’s Road Central, and has ventured afar — from Hong Kong to Canton, Shanghai and Tianjin in China, and to Tokyo, Kobe and Yokohama in Japan. It has been a baker, tailor, outfitter, draper, provisions dealer, wine and spirits merchant, antiques auctioneer, wharf and steamboat operator, restaurateur and bar owner.

Throughout its history, Lane Crawford has always held a prominent place in the Hong Kong community. In good times, it provided the finer things in life. During strikes, plagues and social unrest, it provided essential services and provisions.

During WWII, Hong Kong fell under the occupation of the Japanese Imperial forces and Lane Crawford was renamed Matsuzakaya. Upon the Japanese surrender to the British forces in 1945, the entire contents of Lane Crawford stores were removed and most archives destroyed. The business was restarted with HK$1,000, quickly growing from selling foodstuffs to luxury items such as pearls and foreign cosmetics. By the 1970s, fine jewellery accounted for 60 percent of sales, and buyers were charged to search the world for the finest fashion collections. The 1980s slogan, “We Are Temptation,” was a far cry from the slogan nearly a century before: “The Place to Buy Anything from a Pin to an Anchor.”

Today, the company still champions the ethos of its founding fathers – heralding quality, innovation and integrity. And, while the focus has shifted from being a department store to fashion specialty store, Lane Crawford’s mandate remains the same as it was in 1850 – to search the world and bring back the best merchandise to our customers.