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China — yesterday, today and tomorrow

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BACK

Helmuth Hennig — Group Managing Director

Some consumers may have never heard of Jebsen but many of the brands we market and distribute in the Greater China region are household names. From Porsche and Raymond Weil to Dyson and Blue Girl Beer, we have a long history of introducing products to Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan and the Mainland.

Our roots go back to 1895 when we were founded as a trading company active in the chemical business and in the export of Chinese made products to western markets, but already then always on the look out for new opportunities. Early in the 20th century we started working with Bosch in China, in the 1950s we brought the first Porsche and Volkswagen vehicles to Hong Kong and we opened Mainland China’s first Porsche Centre in Beijing in 2001. Besides cars and related products, our portfolio today spans a wide range of businesses including Beverage, Consumer, Industrial and Luxury.

People say that China is an exciting market. Having been present here for over 100 years, we can attest to that. The pace of change, has been both our greatest and most rewarding challenge. I do not think anybody could have anticipated how China (and, as a consequence, Hong Kong) would change with its admission to the World Trade Organisation. From a market which focussed on the import of machinery and chemicals to grow its huge industrial base, to a consumer market where the Chinese consumer now dominates many global categories, such as cars, watches, luxury in general, has happened in the space of 10 years and this pace has not let up at all.

With our sights set on tomorrow, we have a couple of initiatives running concurrently. We are now embracing e-commerce as a serious alternative route to market. J Select is a new virtual store that we have launched to bring together the best from Jebsen for online shoppers in Hong Kong currently. The idea is to deliver innovative products but also to give consumers an opportunity to understand the distributor behind the product. Our focus is usually on promoting the brands we represent but in this case, we want to build our own brand as well.

We are also expanding our own retail capabilities. With the expansion of our Dyson mandate from Hong Kong to include China, we have established close to 200 sales outlets in the major cities on the Mainland. And we did that in 15 months. Being closer to our consumer and being able to control the interaction for a high price technical product is something we understand in our Porsche business, but we are also learning this in the area of high end consumer durables.

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