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December 27, 2011

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Photo studio boss runs away

A Taiwanese businessman who ran a local wedding studio ran off with the firm's money over the weekend, leaving hundreds of its unpaid staffers and newlywed couples gathered at the flagship store yesterday morning to demand their salaries and photos.

"I can no longer operate the company. Thank you for supporting my business for so many years and sorry for disappointing you," wrote the boss surnamed Cheng of the C&S Photography Sweet Wedding Studio, which operated in Shanghai for more than 10 years.

He sent the short message to high-level employees on Saturday night and then turned off the phone and disappeared. The general manager of the company, surnamed Wang, showed the message to Shanghai Daily yesterday.

Cheng released all the employees four hours early on Saturday and had disappeared with valuables from the city's four chain stores by the next morning, said a staffer at the flagship store on Longcao Road in Xuhui District. He said about 100 staffers were shocked to find more than 100 wedding dresses, computer screens and hard disks gone when they came to work Sunday morning.

A cosmetician surnamed Fu, who had been working at the studio for three years, said many out-of-town employees will be forced to move out of their dormitories soon because the company also failed to pay the rent this month.

About 500 couples are affected because the company signed over 300 orders at a wedding exhibition this month and has another 200 orders, said the manager Wang.

Couples gathered at the stores in Xuhui and Pudong yesterday after hearing Cheng had run away overnight. Some couples had paid deposits to the studio, and some had paid the full fee but failed to receive photo albums. Some never even got to take photos.

A local surnamed Shan said he paid 6,000 yuan (US$948) in mid-August for a wedding album. The studio took the pictures in September but the album had long been delayed, he told Shanghai Daily yesterday.

"A staff of the studio told me two weeks ago that the album will be ready by the end of the year," Shan said.

The manager Wang said he will send electronic versions of the photos to customers, the only thing he could do.

Some business partners of the company, including printing, vehicle-renting and decorating companies, also gathered in front of the studio yesterday to ask for money owed to them. The studio owes at least 6 million yuan to the partners, said a decorating company manager surnamed Qiu, who had cooperated with the studio for over five years.

"The studio was quite successful when Cheng's father founded it in Shanghai 10 years ago, but the business began declining when Cheng and his sister took over four years ago and finally went bankruptcy now," Qiu said.

Xuhui police yesterday said they had begun searching for the boss.


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