The thirty-something chief executive of Lawsgroup, a family-controlled conglomerate which spans apparel manufacturing, retail and property, offers up his views on five key questions on the future of the city in an interview with the South China Morning Post
Do you think Hong Kong is still an ideal place to do business?
Hong Kong has rule of law and a very good regulatory environment which makes it an ideal place to do business. For any company, it is very important for them to operate in a market where there is a set of clear rules and laws to follow.
However, since Hong Kong has already become a developed city, some businesses have matured and are hard to develop further. We have moved our manufacturing out of Hong Kong while all our factories are in the mainland or other markets such as Vietnam and Bangladesh. However, we still develop properties and retail businesses in Hong Kong. We have turned our investment industrial buildings in Lai Chi Kok into shopping malls showcasing innovative industries. Hong Kong is still an ideal place for the innovative and creative industries to develop businesses.
How is your company coping with the economic downturn in Hong Kong and the mainland?
Controlling costs and delaying some development plans. We decided to put on hold some unnecessary development plans and also to hold back our office renovation plan as the economic outlook is not good. We are also reducing our marketing costs. However, we are still opening new shops in Hong Kong and have set up a new factory in Vietnam as these are important for long-term development.
What do you think the government should do to help your business to do better?
The government should make available more land for residential and commercial use, for offices and hospitals and other public facilities. The shortage of land has led to many complaints as companies cannot find a good office, retailers cannot find a shop and people cannot find places to live. Solving the property supply issue would solve a lot of other problems.
The government should also solve social tension. We want to see a stable society with less arguments.
Besides these, I do not think the government needs to do any more. All companies have to find ways to develop their own businesses and they should not rely on any government assistance or incentives.
What is your advice to young people to achieve a successful career?
Young people who have creative ideas and an entrepreneurial spirit should set up businesses. For those who are not that innovative, they could be better suited to a job in a company. Both ways can lead to a successful career if people work hard and make sure they can outperform others. Many young people like to complain but do not try to find ways to improve the situation or to solve problems. They would never find success in this way. Our company provides a platform for young people to develop their careers in manufacturing, retail and property. Our shopping malls at D2 Place One and Two give flexible rental arrangements for young designers to sell their clothes or other creative products, handicrafts as well as food and beverages.
If you had one sentence to say how Hong Kong could move forward, what would it be?
Think positively and always try to find a solution to problems. If people always think in a negative manner and believe things will only get worse, they would not be able to move forward. People who have a positive attitude can cope with challenging times and find ways to improve our situation. If people want to complain, they have the freedom to do so, but they should also suggest solutions to the problems they find. Only by doing so can Hong Kong move forward.