SHANGHAI • Shanghai police have cracked a criminal gang suspected of manufacturing and selling fake Dyson hairdryers, a fashionable icon coveted by the Chinese middle class and young people.
The gang of 36, based in Huizhou, Guangdong province, had a clear division of labour in production, wholesale and retail, said the police, who received reports from the public last August that some consumers had bought fake Dyson hairdryers from stores on various online shopping platforms.
Two production sites were raided, and the suspects were arrested on Dec 14 on suspicion of counterfeiting a registered trademark, police said last Friday.
Nearly 400 finished products, more than 1,500 semi-finished products and more than 200,000 spare parts were seized.
The hairdryers by Dyson, headquartered in Britain, have been popular since their market debut in China in August 2016.
During the annual Singles Day online shopping festival on Nov 11 last year, the hairdryers were among products that saw sales worth 10 million yuan (S$2 million) in the first hour of trading.
The police said the knock-offs were sold at 120 yuan each to wholesalers and retailers, and then sold at a price of between 2,200 and 2,300 yuan as "discounted products" or "European version" products on online shopping platforms.
The fake hairdryers were sold in several provinces and municipalities, including Guangdong, Fujian, Jiangsu, Zhejiang and Shanghai.
Mr Yu Songbin, a police officer with the economic crime team of the Pudong police, who handled the case, said the suspects set up a company in Huizhou early last year to produce hairdryers of their own brand that looked similar to Dyson products, but sales were poor.
They soon decided to make counterfeit Dyson hairdryers instead.
"They hired technicians to disassemble real Dyson products and analyse their structures, and employed more than 30 people for different positions, including purchasing parts and components, working on the assembly line, and wholesaling and retailing the counterfeit products on the Internet," said Mr Yu.
Police said that the sales from the knock-offs had reached more than 10 million yuan by the time the case was cracked.
"The knock-offs are slightly different from the real products in material quality and colour, but are obviously different in the working mechanism, air volume and sound after the machines are turned on," Mr Yu said.
CHINA DAILY/ASIA NEWS NETWORK