Nowadays, customers are unforgiving and rivals are tough. Even a large 60-year-old company needs to change and adapt to new market conditions and needs, or it risks becoming history.
Chinachem Group celebrated its 60th anniversary last year and its Group CEO Donald Choi regards it as “Chinachem volume two, chapter one.”
Donald Choi, Executive Director and Group CEO, Chinachem Group, HK
Embarking on the Next Chapter
“The business environment has changed,” says Choi. “The way we did business in the past may no longer be enough for today. The company must adjust accordingly to launch into the future and embark onto the next 60 years.” That was why Chinachem rejuvenated the brand with a new corporate logo and website, and enhanced the “triple bottom line” principles to reflect their commitment to bringing positive impacts on People, Prosperity and Planet.
Choi explains their commitment to People by citing Central Market, a recent regeneration project, as an example. “The rent in Central is high, and we intentionally rented spaces to young entrepreneurs at affordable rates.” Chinachem has also set up a tenant academy to teach new and inexperienced business owners how to run a business, or for instance, how to create effective display, etc. The 5G-enabled space is equipped with the latest technology to collect real-time visitor data that are shared with the tenants so that they can adjust their sales strategies accordingly.
Creating Shared Values
In addition to provide a community space where everyone is welcome to meet, to eat, to shop and to relax at the Central Market, the team collaborated with different parties to organize community activities and workshops to connect people with the historic building as well as the Central district. There are guided tours in Central and tram tours along the north side of the Hong Kong Island. The second phase of the development will feature a destinated area for people to experience virtual reality. “We do not aim for financial values just for the company. We create shared values for the people and the community.”
The same principle applies to Prosperity. “In the Central Market, we care about providing what everyone needs.” Creating values for our business, the tenants and the customers brings prosperity to everyone. “It should be a win-win situation,” insists Choi. “And when we make profits efficiently from our development projects, we can also have resources to allocate for People and Planet.”
To property owners, we apply the same Prosperity philosophy. “Creating Places with Hearts” is a slogan underpinning Chinachem’s business strategy. As Choi puts it, “we are not just looking to sell our apartments to the general public. We aim at providing future homes in which families will live happily and peacefully.” He believes that contemporary buildings can bring a positive impact to the community and the environment, for example, by incorporating green and smart features to the buildings and apartments.
Preserving the Environment
The Planet is another key focus area for Chinachem. An architect himself, Choi always has an eye on the responsibilities that come with the built environment. “In Hong Kong, 62% of carbon emission comes from the generation of electricity; and building related activities use up to 90% of the electricity generated.” Therefore, by using less electricity in construction, and by developing green buildings that future users will consume less energy, it will make a big impact on carbon emission in Hong Kong. “As a developer, we have the responsibility in environmental protection.”
In 2019, Chinachem set a group-wide carbon removal target “3038” – by 2030 to reduce 38% of carbon emission in comparison to 2015. But in view of the latest COP26 at which a global target was set to keep global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, the company revised the target to “3050” – by 2030 to reduce 51.8% of carbon emission in comparison to 2020.
Reinventing Physical Spaces
This echoes Choi’s words “business environment has changed”. As the metaverse is coming, more changes are expected. Property developers need to reinvent spaces to cope with the changing needs and interact with the virtual world. Shopping malls are no longer for retail only. Homes are for working and schooling as well. “Vinyl sales drops but the music lives on in other formats,” explains Choi. “Physical spaces will continue to exist but developers will need to come up with new designs and deliver them differently.”
To Choi, his architecture training has taught him to deal with the changing world by addressing a problem with a new solution. “We need to think how to solve problems,” continues he. “Hong Kong has proven in history that without much natural resources, its people and agility are key to its success. We still have these advantages. Let’s stay together and continue to build a successful city.”