Issue No. 65 - June/July 2012
Lion gets Asian share via Hong Kong
If Fast Mover performance was based on one year’s results, SA-based Lion Apparel Asia Pacific would be the hands-down winner.
Lion raced from no Hong Kong revenue in 2010 to US$15 million turnover in 2011.
The firm is part of the global LHBw Group (Lion Hellmann Bundeswehr) from Germany which manufactures fire protection clothing, military and general workwear. With the benefit of a Hong Kong base Lion is now “on target” to open new markets in China and Macau.
This success was achieved by re-aligning its market penetration activities from remote contact with the customer, to effectively become a local Hong Kong business.
In a presentation for Invest Hong Kong at the end of May at Adelaide’s Crowne Plaza Hotel, Lion Apparel’s Asia Pacific Regional MD, Warren Hoare explained why it is vital to understand business practices and behaviours in Asia.
“From my experience, we found that many companies attempting to penetrate the Hong Kong market tend to underestimate the professionalism and thoroughness of the business sector there. There were unrealistic and incorrect assumptions regarding market and customer behaviour,” Warren says.
Hong Kong Fire Services Department is among the largest and most innovative services in the world. Lion Apparel is the world’s largest manufacturer of firefighters’ clothing.
Yet it took a five-year campaign to sell HKFSD advanced protective structural fire suits, the single largest such order in the world in 2011, along with a long-term contract for a ‘whole of life’ Garment Management Program, called TotalCare.
“We are a niche industry and if we were able to win this business then I’m sure many of you can also be successful,” Warren says. “Size or industry type isn’t necessarily a restriction (and) doesn’t guarantee success. Having a point of difference and understanding your customer’s needs and their trading behaviours are the keys.