Global Business Development

China and Global Supply Chain Update May 26, 2020

William (Bill) Edwards, CEO of Edwards Global Services, Inc. (EGS), has been doing business in China for 38 years, starting with living in China from late 1982 through mid 1985. He has been the Master Franchisee for a U.S. franchise in China. EGS opened an office in Beijing in 2014 and we are currently helping four U.S. brands enter the Mainland China market. Our U.S. Clients are all consumer-faced franchise brands.

The following are extracts from a variety of information sources and our network inside China.  This is bipartisan and does not reflect a point of view.

“China may become one of many hubs as companies diversify manufacturing after coronavirus shock: The coronavirus is ‘a wake-up call for pretty much every company,’ said Gerry Mattios, expert vice president at Bain. ‘The number one item on the agenda is, “how do I build resilience in my supply chain?’ ‘China is still a very attractive total supply chain solution,’ said How Jit Lim, a managing director with consulting firm Alvarez & Marsal. ‘There are very few countries in the world where you can find almost everything you need to build something.’” CNBC, May 25, 2020

https://bit.ly/Chinamanyhubs

“Coronavirus won’t kill globalisation – but a shakeup is inevitable: Globalisation relies on complex links – global value chains (GVCs) – that connect producers across multiple countries. These producers often use highly specialised intermediate goods, or “inputs”, produced by only one distant, overseas supplier. COVID-19 has severely disrupted these links…..But GVCs follow the principle of efficiency. They are the result of businesses sourcing the best possible inputs to meet their production needs at the lowest cost – wherever those inputs come from. This is good news for globalisation’s survival. While efficiency remains the main target, businesses will continue to shop globally.”, The Conversation, May 23,2020

https://bit.ly/ConversationGVCs

“European Luxury Is More Chinese Than Ever: Designer labels will need to contemplate a wave of European store closures as they become more dependent on China for sales. Chinese luxury consumers, who are almost two decades younger and less indebted than their Western counterparts, can afford to spend a larger chunk of their disposable income on designer baubles. Already there are signs of what stock analysts are calling “revenge spending” as lockdowns lift in Chinese cities and shoppers head to the mall. Consulting firm Bain estimates that by 2025, up to 49% of global luxury sales will be made to Chinese shoppers, an increase from the consulting firm’s earlier forecast of 46%.”, Wall Street Journal, May 22, 2020

https://bit.ly/EuropeanLuxuryChina

“Business travel showing signs of life in China: While the Chinese hotel industry saw a significant performance increase during the Labour Day holiday to start May, some urban markets saw continued demand after the holiday, fueled by a modest return for business travel. Business transient was also strong enough to maintain performance levels following the holiday in Shanghai, with occupancies hovering in the 30% range. While better than performance seen so far in 2020, it still lags well behind what was seen in previous years. ‘For perspective, midweek this time of year in a normal year (occupancy) is about 90%,’ said Jesper Palmqvist, area director for the Asia/Pacific region for STR.”, Hotel News Now, May 20, 2020

https://bit.ly/3cWVpZL


China Blog Update – 4/13/20

(This is an update of our March 9, 2020 China Blog)

Bill Edwards, CEO of Edwards Global Services, Inc. (EGS), has been doing business in China for 37 years, starting with living in China from late 1982 through mid 1985. He has been the Master Franchisee for a U.S. franchise in China. EGS opened an office in Beijing in 2014 and we are currently helping four U.S. brands enter the Mainland China market. Our U.S. Clients are all consumer-faced franchise brands.

Needless to say, things right now are different than ever before. The following are extracts from a variety of information sources and our network inside China on consumer-focused issues post the Wuhan Event.  This is bipartisan and does not reflect a point of view.

Employment

“The official urban unemployment rate of 6.2 per cent in February understates the true level of joblessness and doesn’t include China’s 280m migrant worker population, many of whom haven’t returned to work yet. Close to 500,000 small and medium-sized businesses, the heart of the economy, which were sidelined politically before the crisis, are reported to have failed in the first quarter alone., Financial Times, April 10, 2020

Consumers Trends

Burger King, Dairy Queen, KFC, McDonalds and Starbucks closed over 7,500 restaurants in China by the end of February. Today, over 90% of these restaurants are back open.

Our company’s Managing Director for Greater China based in China says, “the businesses of China have recovered about 60-90% depending on the region. We are still required to wear face masks everywhere and practice social distancing (which is not common in a densely-populated country). Domestic travel is still difficult because place to place travelers have to be quarantined back and forth. Retail, fitness and F&B businesses will need 3-6 months to return to normal levels as people still prefer to eat at home and order in as they did for more than 40 days in February and March. Schools and universities will not start up again until September for the new school year.

“Shopping malls and stores in China have quickly reopened as the government promotes a return to business as usual, only to see consumers stay home and keep their purse strings tight or shop online. Customer traffic is ‘less than half of usual levels’ said a worker at a Walmart store in a Shanghai suburb late last month. The government has in recent weeks highlighted a brisk recovery in business activity, touting efforts to contain the new coronavirus. Shopping centres and restaurants that had closed to stem the outbreak’s spread have rushed to reopen. About 80 per cent of restaurants and more than 90 per cent of commercial facilities have resumed business across China, according to the Ministry of Commerce. But consumers, increasingly wary of government pronouncements and state media, do not feel safe going about their business as usual” Extracts from an article by the Financial Times on April 11, 2020

Life does go on. Yum China Holdings, Inc.‘s newly-acquired controlling interest in the casual-dining brand Huang Ji Huang group, a simmer pot concept, and emerging fast-food restaurant San Fen Bao, to its portfolio. Founded in 2004 and headquartered in Beijing, Huang Ji Huang has over 640 restaurants in China and internationally. Following the acquisition, Yum China will establish a ‘Chinese dining business unit’ comprising three core Chinese dining brands: Little Sheep, East Dawning, and Huang Ji Huang. “Global Franchise’, April 8, 2020

Good news for Chinese small businesses. “Insurance companies in China are taking on an unusual mission: They are promising to cover business losses from the coronavirus pandemic, as hundreds of millions of people return to work, and the country tries to rev up its economic engine. Since February, dozens of Chinese property-and-casualty insurers have rolled out new policies or expanded existing ones to provide compensation when workers contract Covid-19, the respiratory disease caused by the new coronavirus. The insurance payouts would help companies that are forced to close temporarily if staffers fall sick, other employees have to be quarantined and business activities are disrupted. Some of the policies are provided free-of-charge by insurers, while others have low premiums that are subsidized by local governments. Many sellers of coronavirus-related coverage are state-owned insurers, which can likely fall back on state support in the event of major losses.” Wall Street Journal, April 10, 2020

Most Chinese factories are now back to operating at around 80% of capacity. Some are pushing 100%. Foxconn, the Taiwanese contract manufacturer which assembles the majority of Apple’s iPhones in China, says that with the help of tests for the virus and chest x-rays it has been able to get all its operations on the mainland back up and running with no risk to the health of its workers. In a call to investors on April 1st it reported that it was on target to provide Apple with all the 5g iPhones it needs for the launch of the device this autumn. Many of the measures that made China’s great reopening possible were boring-but-important changes to existing protocols; more hygiene measures, more separation between workers, and screening (companies in China and elsewhere are trying to get their hands on a lot of tests for sars-cov-2 infection). The Economist, April 8, 2020

“Chinese consumers are shopping again, in a timely boost for the beleaguered economy, as they regain some semblance of normal life after unprecedented lockdowns aimed at containing the coronavirus pandemic. Demand for travel, cosmetics, outdoor gear and food has surged in recent weeks as policy-driven stimulus kicked in, workers returned to offices and factories and the government started easing restrictions on people’s movement. Transport bookings rose more than 50 per cent, while hotel reservations increased by 60 per cent during the three-day tomb-sweeping Ching Ming Festival through April 6, according to Trip.com Group. Online retail orders have likewise boomed, according to e-commerce site Pinduoduo. South China Morning Post, April 8, 2020

Savills China Retail believes that China’s retail sector will fully recover by the second half of the year, once as the country has recouped from the COVID-19 pandemic, reported Retail News Asia. Entertainment centres, shopping malls, restaurants, and gyms that were affected by the government-mandated lockdown in late January are predicted to flourish post-coronavirus, as consumers cautiously retreat back to their old shopping habits. At present, shopping malls in Shanghai have 30 percent fewer shoppers compared to before the outbreak. However, starting today, malls will return to their regular operating hours, from 10 AM to 10 PM, and most retail tenants will reopen to the public.  Since the reopening, some sources have already revealed long queues outside fashion stores in IAPM mall, as well as difficulty in finding parking slots and seats at coffee shops.  Even though some restaurants have permanently closed due to the unaffordability of labour and rent costs during the outbreak, those who did survive were allowed to reopen as soon as they have reapplied.: Source: Property Guru Report, early April.

Car Sales

(Car) “quarterly sales declined 42% on year to 3.7 million vehicles, the government-backed China Association of Automobile Manufacturers said Friday. While demand started to return in March as China’s epidemic situation stabilized, sales for that month were still down 43% on year at 1.4 million vehicles. Sales had plunged 79% in February.

The rebound is already struggling to sustain its momentum. The increase in visits to dealerships trailed off in April, said Lin Huaibin, an analyst at IHS Markit, as Chinese consumers—their confidence still fragile—watched the virus ravaging the U.S. and Europe and realized the scale of the crisis facing the global economy. This fresh “demand shock” would cause auto sales to fall by about 14% this month from the same period a year earlier, Mr. Lin said, compared with a very weak April 2019, when sales fell 15% on year.

Government and Landlord Support

Just in from Deloitte:  The Chinese central government has unveiled a raft of measures to support the market amid the novel coronavirus pneumonia outbreak. The support plan for SME’s mainly includes:

  1. Easing tax burden: on individuals and corporations
  2. Financial support: increase credit supply, reduce difficulty and cost of loan applications
  3. Stability of employment: delay collection of social insurance premium.

Also, property developers/landlords, including Wanda Group, China Resources, Poly Group, Country Garden, etc. have announced waiving rent for tenants for 1-2 month durations.

Travel

 “United UAL Airlines could announce it will soon resume passenger flights to China, which is rebounding after strong measures brought the coronavirus outbreak under control. United would likely fly between San Francisco and Shanghai Pudong. Demand is increasing for United as business resumes in China and its U.S. corporate customers re-establish supply chains.” Forbes, April 10, 2020

But….” Hotel stay in Beijing only with negative corona test from April 12. In order to stay in a hotel in Beijing from April 12, guests will have to provide a negative result of a nucleic acid test that was taken within the last 7 days as well as national or Beijing health codes that show no abnormal status. China Legal Services, April 10, 2020

 In Summary

We keep our thumb on pulse of the Chinese business market, monitoring daily changes and trends, and have insight on how you can protect and grow your brand in this critical market. We will update this China blog about every other week.

Feel free to reach out to Bill Edwards, CEO of Edwards Global Services, Inc., (EGS) to ask questions or share best practices at +1 949 375 1896 or bedwards@edwardsglobal.com.

“It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change”. Darwin


The Coronavirus Impact on Doing Business in China Today – March 9, 2020

This blog is an update on the blog originally posted on February 26, 2020.

Bill Edwards, CEO of Edwards Global Services, Inc. (EGS), has been doing business in China for 37 years, starting with living in China from late 1982 through mid 1985. Our company opened an office in Beijing in 2014 and we are currently helping four U.S. brands enter the Mainland China market. Needless to say, things right now are different than ever before.

As of February 20th, all flights from the US to China and most to Hong Kong were stopped and are expected to restart until at least May. Face to face business meetings stopped in February and have mot restarted as of the date of this blog. The Chinese are learning to work remotely.

Here are some recent headlines and articles that define what is going on in China as of this date:

The Chinese government is strongly encouraging businesses to start back up in Guangzhou and Shanghai. The quarantine restriction has also been loosened on these cities. But not as much in Beijing, where the central government is headquartered.

The U.S. Faegre Drinker law firm has a China office and sent out an email on March 6th that states ‘Most employers in China are slowly getting back to somewhat normal operations, with most employees gradually returning to offices and factories. There are several things that employers should know to maximize the speed with which they can return to normal operations and continue to work in the time of the coronavirus.” This timely information is at this link:

http://bit.ly/BacktoworkinChina

The CEO of a California company with two high tech factories in Eastern China says his staff both facilities are open again and staff is gradually coming back but have to go through a 14-day quarantine period before they can work.

The business volume index of China Logistics Prosperity Index (LPI) came in at 26.2 in February, down from 49.9 in January. Fung Business Intelligence 030420

“The Caixin/Markit services purchasing managers’ index (PMI) fell over 25 index points to 26.5 in February from 51.8 in January, with the figure adjusted for seasonal factors, including the Lunar New Year. The latest figure, the first reduction in business activity across China’s service sector since the survey began in November 2005, followed the larger-than-expected deterioration in the official and private sector manufacturing sector PMIs  to all-time lows in February.” South China Morning Post (SCMP) 030420

“The value of China’s exports for January and February fell 17.2 per cent from the equivalent period of 2019 to US$292.45 billion, as virus-related production bottlenecks and the extended holiday reduced output. Imports, however, fell by only 4 per cent to US$299.54 billion, due in part to a spike in shipments of food and medical supplies.” South China Morning Post (SCMP) 030720

Manufacturing activity in China sunk in February to its lowest level since managers were first surveyed in 2004. Wall Street Journal. 030720

“Exports to the United States plunged 27.7% in January and February to $43 billion, worsening from December’s 12.5% decline. Imports of American goods crept up 2.5% to $17.6 billion, but China still recorded a $25.4 billion trade surplus with the United States. China’s global trade balance fell to a $7.1 billion deficit for the first two months of the year.”  ABC News 030720

“China’s top eight ports, including Shenzhen and Shanghai, reported a nearly 20 per cent drop in container traffic in February from a year earlier, The eight ports account for over half of China’s trade in containers, suggesting that China’s trade last month also shrank by a fifth. SCMP 030520

“Starbucks® said the virus had reduced revenue expectations in its second-biggest market by at least $400 million for its current quarter. They expect same-store sales to drop 50% in its second quarter in China, as opposed to the 3% growth previously expected.”  Wall Street Journal   030520

It appears that the majority of Burger King®, Dairy Queen®, KFC, McDonald’s® and Starbucks® stores in China have reopened except in Hubei province (Wuhan),

We daily keep our thumb on pulse of the Chinese business market, monitoring daily changes and trends, and have insight on how you can protect and grow your brand in this critical market. Contact Bill Edwards directly at bedwards@edwardsglobal.com or on +1 949 224 3896


An Update on the Coronavirus Impact on Doing Business in China Today

Bill Edwards, CEO of EGS, has been doing business in China for 37 years, starting with living in China from late 1982 through mid 1985. Our company opened an office in Beijing in 2014. Our company is currently helping four U.S. brand enter the Mainland China market. Needless to say, things right now are different than ever before

Here are some recent headlines and analysis that define what is going on in China today:

As of this date, all flights from the US to China and most to Hong Kong have stopped. Business meetings stopped 2+ weeks ago. The Chinese are learning to work remotely.

“China Passenger Car Association said sales fell to just 4,909 units in the first 16 days of February, from 59,930 in the same period in 2019”, South China Morning Post (SCMP), 022120

“China app downloads surge due to coronavirus outbreak Deadly epidemic has left tens of millions of people confined to their homes”, Financial Times 021920

“Coronavirus a boon for China’s tech-savvy supermarkets as homebound customers switch to online grocery orders”, SCMP 022120

Burger King®, Dairy Queen®, KFC, McDonald’s® and Starbucks® closed a total of over 7,500 stores in China in late January or early February.

“McDonald’s has implemented contactless pickup and delivery of Big Macs, fries and other menu items across the China. Customers order remotely and employees seal the meals in bags and put them in a special spot for pickup without human contact.” Reuters 021820

Some feedback from business contacts in China:

“We have been inside our Beijing home for over a month. Only one adult is allowed out every other day. Our temperature is checked by a guard on the way our and on the way back in. Our 8-year-old daughter has not been to school in a month and we have run out of videos for her. Our local grocery store now comes to our housing compound.”, Our company’s Managing Director for Greater China based in Beijing.

“Thanks so much for the nice email and your concerns, Bill. The Coronavirus has essentially stopped inbound/outbound movement and that’s not good for business. All of our staff are doing fine and no one so far has been affected. Many of us try to work remotely as much as possible and avoid crowds, subways, and restaurants.” Message from the Managing Partner of a Shanghai legal firm. 022220

But things are starting to change:

“China’s biggest factories are offering bonuses and the government has laid on planes, trains and buses to ferry people back to work.” Financial Times 022520

“Apple reopens more than half its retail stores in China after coronavirus closures. Apple’s store website shows 29 of 42 locations are opening”. SCMP 022520

With over 37 years of experience of doing business in China, I’m happy to discuss these business ramifications and solutions. I keep my thumb on pulse of the Chinese business market, monitoring daily changes and trends, and have insight on how you can protect and grow your brand in this critical market. Contact me directly at bedwards@edwardsglobal.com or on +1 949 375 1896


The Place of Culture in a Flat World

In April 2005, New York Times columnist Tom Friedman published the iconic book on globalization, “The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century”.

The title eludes to the perceptual shift required for countries, companies, and individuals in order to remain competitive in a global market where historical and geographical divisions are becoming increasingly irrelevant.

Per Wikipedia, “Friedman himself is a strong advocate of these changes, calling himself a ‘free-trader’ and a ‘compassionate flatist’, and he criticizes societies that resist these changes. In his opinion, this flattening is a product of a convergence of personal computers with fiber-optic micro cable with the rise of work flow software.”

Many readers, including this author, initially interpreted this as saying that the world is increasingly the same, diversity is going away. A re-reading of Mr. Friedman’s book, and subsequent writings, shows this is not exactly correct. He is proposing that the business world is adopting the same standards worldwide in order to compete with companies in other countries. A strong case can be made for this postulation.

Along comes culture. Dictionary.com defines culture as: “The quality in a person or society that arises from a concern for what is regarded as excellent in arts, letters, manners, scholarly pursuits, etc.; development or improvement of the mind by education or training; and the behaviors and beliefs characteristic of a particular social, ethnic, or age group.”

Businessculture.org says, “Culture illustrates the accepted norms and values and traditional behaviour of a group . . . ‘the way we do things around here.’ The culture of each country has its own beliefs, values and activities. In other words, culture can be defined as an evolving set of collective beliefs, values and attitudes.”

In my experience working in 68 countries over the past 42 years, culture is alive and prospering. In order to do business in other countries, you must be aware of the local culture and how it impacts business to be successful. Flatness is not as important as the culture with which you are dealing. In other words, you must be aware of the diversity in doing business that the local culture represents to be successful in today’s global business environment.

Robert Shaw, a highly experienced and successful global franchise executive based in Orange County, California, has studied the knowledge of local culture as a way to win in business. Mr. Shaw defines three major cultural types that you have to take into account to win in global business:

  • Linear – Aggressive, time is money, task focused, individualistic, the “John Wayne” approach – North America, Australia and Northern Europe
  • Multi-Active – Relationship comes FIRST and BEFORE business, top heavy hierarchy, only meet with decision-makers – Mediterranean, Latin America, Middle East and India
  • Reactive – Relationships first, quiet nodding, listeners, group decisions – Asia (except India.) Nodding simply means they may understand what you are saying. Not that they are agreeing with you.

The aggressive ‘let’s get the deal done and go home’ that US business people often follow leaves no time to develop the relationships that most cultures value and require in order to get business done.

And here are a few cultural “no-no’s” to remember that Mr. Shaw and I have encountered over the years:

  • White flowers as a gift in Japan – white is the color for funerals
  • Showing the bottom of your shoes in the Middle East – dirtiest thing you can do
  • Making the sign for ‘okay’ in Brazil
  • Referring to Taiwan as a country in China
  • Talking politics – sports and local culture are better topics
  • Folding business cards – cards are expressions of who someone is and what they have accomplished

Terri Morrison, in her classic book, “Kiss, Bow and Shake Hands”, shares a few basic but critical cultural differences in doing business in key countries. In regards to meetings:

  • In Brazil, lack of punctuality is a fact of life; be flexible about your counterpart’s (lack of) punctuality
  • In China, punctuality for all appointments is important
  • In India, Indians appreciate punctuality, but do not always practice it themselves!

The bottom line? While business processes may be flattening, cultures are not. To succeed in global business you have to add the cultural factor to your approach to people and companies in other cultures. Ignore the ‘non-flat’ local way of doing business because you think similar business processes are all that counts in a country and you will fail.

Cultures are what make the world an increasingly interesting place!


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