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China's Rich Spurring Demand for British Butlers

BritCham / CBBC
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As wealth shifts to the East, English butlers are in demand from China’s growing wealthy elite.

Europe is struggling with a debt crisis and the U.S. is trying to revive its economy, but burgeoning growth in emerging markets is boosting spending on luxuries like never before, and creating opportunities for more people to look after them.

The ranks of millionaires in 10 major Asian economies will more than double to 2.8 million by 2015, according to a Julius Baer Group and CLSA Asia Pacific Markets report on 31st August. China’s economy grew 9.1 percent in the third quarter from a year earlier, compared with U.S. growth of 1.5 percent.

“We have been doing a lot of business in China particularly,” said Robert Wennekes, chairman of The International Butler Academy, which trains servants in formal white gloves and tails at a castle in the Netherlands. “Every month for the past 15 months, I have been travelling from Amsterdam to China to service our clients there.”

Demand for placing butlers in the homes and yachts of the wealthy increased about 20 percent this year, according to Sebastian Hirsch, owner of Butler For You, a company registered in Berlin placing household staff across Europe. Hirsch has 30 percent more butlers on his books this year.

Sara Vestin, director of Bespoke Bureau, Peek-a-boo & Cupcakes Domestic Staff & Nanny agencies in London, said her company trained 52 butlers this year, up from 20 last year, and they all got jobs. The highest paid placement was for a 101,500- pound ($158,390) salary in the United Arab Emirates, she said.

‘Win, Win’

“Everyone looking for a job who is accepted on the training with us, will get a job,” Vestin said in a Dec. 7 e- mail. “There are a lot of people looking to hire butlers and there is a shortage of them, so for us it’s a win, win situation,” she said.

Greycoat Placements, also based in London, has about 20,000 people on its books today, three times more than in 2008, Salter said. Butler placements by the company grew about 20 percent this year over 2010, she said.
Demand has been driven partly because of a growing number of Chinese clients needing butlers for their second homes in London, said Laura Harrall, a director at Greycoats.

“Asia is coming up pretty strong now,” Watson said. “We are getting lots of enquiries from these Chinese who are sitting on piles of money. They are discovering that if you spend $8 million on a villa with marble flooring, you need someone to come along who knows what they are doing.”

Source: Business Week

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