China-Britain Business Council has run the inaugural China-Scotland Business Awards to showcase progress and achievements of trade & investment between Scotland and China.
Winners of the Awards were announced during the Chinese Burns Supper 2018 taking place in Grand Central Hotel Glasgow on 1st February 2018.
1. CHINA WELCOME OF THE YEAR - LAINGS
Headquartered in Glasgow since 1840, Laings the jeweller has Scottish outlets in both Edinburgh and Glasgow. Within the last 3 years, Laings has made a concerted effort to implement a wide array of measures to improve and grow their customer experience for Chinese visitors.
- Establishing fully functional corporate Weibo and Wechat accounts
- Employing front-of-house Chinese- speaking staff
- Offering a selection of Chinese tea and seasonable snacks for Chinese clients, such as mooncakes, etc.
- Offering free guest wifi – of particular interest to Chinese visitors
- Engaging with Edinburgh Tourism Action Group (ETAG) led activities to attract Chinese tourists
- Promoting key Chinese festivals in-store to engage with Chinese students and visitors
- Offering tax refunds at the point of sale
- Building a strong relationship with tour guides who welcome Chinese visitors to Scotland
All in all, Laings’ dedicated Chinese speaking team, continuous investment in Chinese Social media, competitive tax refund offers, in-store Chinese customer experience, and strong partnership with key stakeholders have positioned themselves very well to win Chinese visitors.
2. CHINESE INVESTOR OF THE YEAR - SANPOWER/HOUSE OF FRASER
Sanpower’s acquisition of House of Fraser (incorporated in Glasgow 169 years ago) in 2014 provided much-needed financial support and ownership stability for the business, and helped it complete a number of store refurbishments, upgrade its logistics, supply chain, IT and sourcing, and re-launch a much improved website, from which 20% of sales is generated.
Reciprocally, Sanpower has leveraged HOF’s branding, management and other expertise to help lead the structural shift in China’s department store sector, establishing a flagship store in Nanjing in 2017, which seeks to be a retail platform for Scottish products.
Sanpower Group’s broader business scope includes Finance, Healthcare & Life Sciences. Sanpower sees real strategic opportunity within the Belt & Road Initiative to expand overseas. With extensive resources in China when it comes to elderly care, hospitals, blood banks, and immunotherapy treatment, they believe that there are real possibilities for Sanpower to seek out further partnerships in Scotland.
In the long‐term Sanpower sees Scotland as the perfect place to further evolve their management philosophy by engaging with its communities, students, financial institutions, and public figures. They are looking to this year, 2018, as the year for an upsurge in activity between Sanpower and Scotland.
3. EXPORTER OF THE YEAR - PEAK SCIENTIFIC INSTRUMENTS LTD
Peak Scientific manufactures gas generators, mainly for the scientific and life science market. Peak started its China operations in 2012, and has grown to 65 people today, with plans to grow further to 90. China has grown to become Peak’s largest single market.
Peak Scientific has made extensive use of the Internet as a way of connecting with prospective customers on a personal level. They continuously post articles on industry websites as well as our own website, presenting Peak Scientific’s local activities and culture rather than just their products and value proposition, building a strong Wechat following.
Amongst their key clients are numerous Chinese government agencies, including 68 China Inspection and Quarantine (CIQ) Laboratories and 56 Food and Drug Administration Laboratories (FDA) through which Peak is able to play a small part in improving food and product safety in China.
In addition to their Shanghai office, Peak has now established service and sales support bases in Harbin, Beijing, Jinan, Xuzhou, Zhengzhou, Nanjing, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Fuzhou, Guangzhou, Wuhan and Chengdu.
All of Peak’s products continue to be manufactured in Glasgow, of which approximately 30% are now sold to China.
4. EDUCATION-BUSINESS COLLABORATION OF THE YEAR - THE INTERNATIONAL DIABETES CENTRE, SHENZHEN
In November 2016, The University of Edinburgh and Hua Xia Healthcare (a Hong Kong listed hospital investment and management company with a Scottish registered subsidiary) formed a collaboration to pursue opportunities in China’s healthcare market.
China’s healthcare sector is challenged by resource and skill shortages and an increase in common diseases such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease. For the Chinese Government, reform of the healthcare sector is both a social and strategic priority.
The collaboration was awarded its first project in May 2017, to support the establishment of an International Diabetes Centre (IDC) within Shenzhen People’s Hospital, supported by a Shenzhen Municipal Government ‘Three Famous Programme funding award.
The current out patient service sees 80,000 patients per year. The partnership is introducing a new service model underpinned by a bespoke Informatics/Data platform modeled on Scotland’s world- leading diabetes care management system.
5. SPECIAL AWARD FOR CONTRIBUTION TO SCOTLAND-CHINA RELATIONS - BANK OF CHINA
The Glasgow Branch of Bank of China (UK) Limited was originally established in 1985, and has been serving the local community ever since. In 2015 the Bank of China embarked upon a 1 million pound upgrade project of the Glasgow branch, demonstrating their long-term commitment.
Bank of China’s Glasgow branch employees 12 staff but its impact on Scotland-China relations reaches far beyond, through the multitude of activities it undertakes in the region, acting as a bridge for economic, trade and cultural cooperation between China and the UK. Its virtual business matchmaking service has been a particularly popular service in this regard, leveraging the bank’s huge network in China to benefit Scottish business interests.
While primarily a financial institution, it is important to note that the Bank also feels a responsibility in making a cultural contribution. The branch is often a hub for the Chinese community and a starting point for many as they begin their “Scottish experience” e.g. helping Chinese language teachers (e.g. the Confucius Institute) settle in, arranging collection of students from the airport to take them to their term-time residences. It also sponsors a broad variety of Chinese cultural events in Scotland.
6. NEW TO CHINA EXPORTER AWARD - FINDLAY IRVINE LTD
Findlay Irvine, based in Penicuik since shortly after its inception in 1960, manufactures a range of transport related safety equipment. China’s burgeoning transport infrastructure led Findlay Irvine to explore opportunities in both rail and civil aviation. Ultimately, following an initial trip to market in 2015, an opportunity was identified to export into the airport maintenance market.
One item of equipment in particular, which helps to ensure the safety of runways by measuring their skid resistance for take- off and landing, the ‘GripTester’ was thus selected as an initial focus.
Findlay Irvine commissioned CBBC to identify and verify potential agents in the Chinese market and once an agent had been selected the process of navigating the complex regulatory environment of Chinese civil aviation could begin. This approach finally bore fruit in December 2017 when the first sale was secured and shipped to China.
Today Findlay Irvine is on the necessary approved vendor list, and is concentrating on supporting the in-market representative to win more sales into the Chinese airport maintenance sector. If this product line is proven to be well received in the Chinese market, several other product lines, such as those in Rail and Roads, will be explored in China as well.
Keith Brown, Economy Secretary, said:
China-Britain Business Council congratulates all the winners of the Awards.
“The economic ties between our two countries continue to flourish. The Scottish Government is supporting more Scottish companies to export to China, and we continue to see significant investment into Scotland from Chinese businesses – which are now among our top five sources of inward investment. In the spring, we will publish a revised strategy for Scotland’s engagement with China. It will set out the areas where we believe there is even greater scope for collaboration – areas like trade and investment, education, and the exchange of culture, ideas and people.”
James Brodie, Director for Scotland & Energy of China-Britain Business Council, said:
“The quality of the entries in this, our first year of running the awards, has been remarkably high. It’s brought up some fantastic success stories of Scottish firms overcoming various challenges to create very profitable businesses in China. The pioneering nature of our education sector in China has also once more been highlighted with their own efforts in commercializing their world-leading research in some key strategic areas such as agriculture, healthcare and the low-carbon economy. As for our travel trade, it’s been incredible to witness the growth in Chinese visitors to Scotland in the last few years, and the industry has clearly gone out of their way to equip themselves to accommodate them. It’s not only our travel industry that’s risen to the challenge in this – the awards have unearthed the extents to which Scottish businesses in all sectors have attracted and hosted Chinese partners, which is helping to increase the amount of Chinese investment in Scotland – which was celebrated in the final award category. I look forward to building upon the success of last night with next year’s awards, and once more congratulate all of our Winners on their success!“
CBBC would like to thank our event sponsors: Glasgow Airport, Edinburgh Airport, Scottish Confucius Institute for Business & Communication of Heriot-Watt University, Scottish Development International and our partner the University of Glasgow’s Confucius Institute.