Why Paragon Trading Asia believes the finer things in life should be sustainable
Luxury and sustainability meet over a CEO’s passion for the exquisite and drive for change.
Sustainable and luxury are probably two words that aren’t often seen together but Paragon Trading Asia made it happen by spearheading a different kind of sustainability: one in luxury lifestyle quintessentials.
Established in 2021, Paragon Trading Asia stands on four pillars that most would attribute to wealth: wine, water, whisky, watches, in all of which the company consciously applies sustainability practices.
CEO Christopher Liang, having been an avid collector of the finer things, had the “good opportunity back in 2018, to be part of a corporate finance takeover with an Australian family office to take control of the vineyard which now produces some of the best wines from New Zealand.”
This opportunity gave birth to Gladstone Vineyard wines. Established in 1986, the wine label is recognised as a pioneer wine producer in New Zealand and today produces Viognier, PInot Gris, Rose, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc varieties.
“This is quite a remarkable feat for a rather young vineyard, being only 36 years. Since this initial success, we decided to expand our beverage portfolio to include Irish gin and whiskey, as well as our own beverage portfolio in Southeast Asia, which includes some of the best waters and the craft beer selection from Winking Co.
“My position now as a producer, brand ambassador and brand owner of a selection of world-class products is a natural continuation of our interest in collecting fine and rare items possessing high upsides,” said Liang.
SUSTAINABILITY IN A BOTTLE
The limited production and application of organic principles hugely contribute to the sustainable business.
“We actually produce in boutique volumes every year. And it doesn't stop us from getting a very good quality rating,” Liang proudly says, after Gladstone Vineyard wines garnered a minimum of 90 points from wine experts Rebecca Gibbs and Robert Parker.
Aside from these, Paragon Trading also boasts to ship wines overseas in 80% recycled, lightweight bottles which reduces the amount of fuel during transport. Across the business, the company also uses recycled office paper, recyclable toners and printer consumables; reuse wine boxes, case dividers, glass, plastic, paper, tins and cardboard in packaging; using environment-friendly cleaning products; and source from local and environment-friendly suppliers where possible. Even the winery’s design maximizes natural lighting as a source of daytime light to reduce energy consumption.
The company is also trying to become a member of as group that supports organic winemaking and organic wine packaging. “We are up to 100% organic cork, and use recyclable or biodegradable glass for our bottles,” said Liang.
“Regarding the gins and whiskies from Ireland, we are making a move to reduce the use of paper by etching the logos of different products directly onto the glass of our bottles.” Liang added.
Today, Paragon Trading distributes its wine and whiskey through renowned distributors in Asia. including Watson's wine in Hong Kong, distributors with sector expertise in Europe and the US, and Magnums in Singapore.
Another one of Paragon Trading’s product, an environmentally friendly alternative to plastic-bottled water, beWater™, was created to help eliminate single-use plastics and reduce the impact of table water.
“We had created this new concept around 2020, whereby we advocated for the use of aluminium cans rather than plastic bottles as the packaging of choice for the new generation of waters. We managed to get the patent from Ball, a Fortune 500 company that are supportive of our mission and vision. They gave us exclusive rights to package water using aluminium packaging for the next five years in Asia Pacific. This is a big, unique selling point for our waters,” Liang relates.
“A lot of government initiatives will be supportive of this transition in the coming years. There is a directive in Hong Kong to reduce the use of single-use plastics. And I do believe this aluminium can design fits the bill quite correctly,” Liang added.
Paragon has also partnered with multimillion-dollar conglomerates from the US to redesign the water cans to be slightly thinner and sleeker than traditional cans for soda to reduce the amount of aluminium used. The redesign will use a smaller surface area but hold the same volume, in turn making the water cans easier for recycling and lighter for transport.
The company has also embarked on a recycling campaign among its clients such as hospitality groups or restaurant groups, or exhibition events.
“Our team of canister collectors would pay a visit to some of these venues every week to talk to them about collecting the used cans, which could be recycled for a nominal sum and benefit from government subsidies,” Liang said.
CIEL WATCHES: THE SKY'S THE LIMIT
Ciel is Liang’s private-label Swiss watch brand and a homage to his passion for the finer and enduring things.
“This is a labour of love and is made up to Swiss horological association standards. I'm trying to promote this amongst a certain segment of the demographic simply because I want to see this memory kept as a collectible,” Liang said.
Ciel, which means ‘sky’ in French, features a moon-shaped second hand, sapphire crystal mechanism with stainless steel case, and high-precision Swiss movement. Only 500 pieces of this limited edition brand circulate worldwide, each uniquely numbered, sold on consignment and upon special dispensation. The natural jewels and authentic Swiss parts are rare even on the high-end market, he claims.
Customers who buy a Ciel watch will receive a “certificate that allows any of our clients who experience technical problems with the watch, to bring it into a Ronda time centre,” two of which are in Switzerland and one in Hong Kong. As the market opens up following COVID-19 restrictions, “We are happy to start promoting select batches of the watch through several multibrand jewelry and watch shops.
BETTER WITH AGE
Catering to an exclusive market will ensure that his products maintain their enduring and high quality, and Liang foresees his products penetrating the upper crust of the Asia Pacific.
“I hope we could improve the connection between different markets so that my stock of very fine wine and spirits could be enjoyed throughout the region.”
The next phase of marketing involves charitable events and wine tastings in Thailand, Hong Kong, Malaysia, the Philippines, and even Taiwan, supported by a chamber of commerce for wine in Hong Kong, where he sits as chairman.
“It will be nice to host these educational events from time to time as an opportunity for people to mingle and to try our latest vintages, but also to become a loyal member of Paragon Liquors.” Liang said in closing. “The good news is, I've got time on my side. I've got products that only get better with age.”