The chairman of China’s largest textile manufacturer, Yafu Qiu has led the loss-making factory to a period of growth through emphasis on R&D, supplying high-end fabric to luxury labels including Hugo Boss and Armani. He has also spearheaded an acquisition spree to build Ruyi Group’s fashion portfolio, with stakes or ownership in SMCP, Bally, Aquascutum and Gieves & Hawkes.
Born in Jining, Shandong, Qiu became a technician at Ruyi, a state-owned wool mill, in 1975. He went on to obtain a degree in economic management from Xi’an Polytechnic University in 1993 and holds an MBA from Tsinghua University. He was soon appointed Ruyi’s deputy general manager, investing in the research and development of its textiles and becoming a supplier to luxury brands like Hugo Boss and Armani.
After taking over a number of domestic rivals, Ruyi is China’s largest textile and garment firm. The company owns a fully integrated value chain and its operations span across the cultivation of raw materials, textiles processing, design and sale of brands and apparel.
Qiu’s ambitions also lie in fashion luxury businesses, aiming to build a “globally renowned fashion powerhouse.” In March 2017, Ruyi acquired British clothing manufacturer Aquascutum for $117 million. It also purchased a majority stake in SMCP for £1.15 billion, which was taken public in 2017.
Rumours that Sir Philip Green was considering selling his Arcadia company to Shandong Ruyi were swirling in early 2018, however they failed to materialise. In 2019, the group acquired a controlling stake in The Lycra Company from American conglomerate Koch Industries for $2.6 billion.