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 Shandong Ruyi’s fashion portfolio, with stakes or ownership in SMCP, Bally, Aquascutum, Gieves & Hawkes and Renown.
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 2010, Shandong Ruyi purchased a 41 percent stake in Japanese brand Renown, and in March 2017, it 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. In February 2018, it acquired a majority stake in Bally from parent company JAB Holding Company. Rumours that Sir Philip Green was considering selling his Arcadia company to Shandong Ruyi were swirling in early 2018, however they failed to materialise.
According to Bloomberg, if the Chinese firm were listed, it would be among the top 20 global fashion and luxury groups by revenue.