Eslite Group Vice Chairman Mercy Wu
A Chinese Brand Formed by Shared Values
Mercy Wu, vice chairman of the Eslite Group, shares Eslite’s approach to adapting to change in some cases and holding on in others.
A Chinese Brand Formed by Shared ValuesBy Yueh-lin Ma
From CommonWealth Magazine (vol. 602 )
With the digitalization of everything proceeding at a torrid pace, how can the Taiwanese brand Eslite, which has branched out to Hong Kong and planted its flag in Suzhou and Shanghai, transform itself into a brand for Chinese people? Mercy Wu, vice chairman of the Eslite Group, shares Eslite’s approach. Following are edited excerpts from her address:
I am sure everyone has noticed Eslite’s development in recent years, over the course of which we have continued to follow the core principles of genius loci (spirit of location) and “spatial expression” our group established right from the beginning. No matter how many different types of bookstores, Eslite Spectrums, cinemas, auditoriums, Eslite Forums, Eslite Residences, or Eslite Hotels we establish, each is strongly informed by its immediate surroundings. This is a conscious choice on our part.
We want Eslite to be a medium through which people who come here can feel that there is hope for them to change their lives, and that life is full of pleasant surprises.
We hope Eslite can be the kind of place that provides such inspiration.
Eslite’s vision is about “actively contributing to the elevation of humanistic elegance.” Several years ago we exhibited manuscripts of Chi Pang-yuan’s (齊邦媛) The Great-Flowing River (巨流河) at our Zhongcheng store in Taipei. Some paragraphs in it struck me as the encapsulation of what Eslite means by ‘humanistic elegance’ :
“As I took up my pen to write The Great-Flowing River, it was already late in the day. I was like a pilgrim, making his way one day at a time, moving one step higher at a time, intending only to complete the journey before nightfall, never daring to go into detailed descriptions of the lingering awe at witnessing the majesty of the morning sky or the magnificent sunset. Perhaps this could be attributed to limitations in my ability to express myself.
I hope that Chinese intellectuals and bibliophiles, no matter their preference in reading materials, cultivate their own interests, have an anchor to return to in their mind, and develop well grounded decision-making abilities. Such a vast country, with so many people tied together by a complex history, should never again allow passions to determine the nation’s or individuals’ fates; rather, it should cultivate a spirit of tolerance and compassion for others.”
Composure, tolerance, and compassion – I think that no matter what form it takes, these should be the most important principles Eslite holds.
Eslite’s outward movement from Taiwan into greater Chinese society is not about simply attaining a Hong Kong business license or registering an address in China to call itself a “Chinese” brand. We believe that for us to one day become a bona fide Chinese brand, we must share and connect with each other through our common values and cultural heritage.
Translated from the Chinese by David Toman