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Saturday, Feb 24, 2024

Friday Beyond Spotlights - Sunny Tan: Weaving into the Fabric of the Global Economy

Friday Beyond Spotlights is an informative yet light-hearted talk show airing every Friday at 8:30pm on Hong Kong International Business Channel (#76).
The English language program features prominent guests who share their insights into current affairs, business, innovation and culture, as well as their ingenuity, passion and grit which forge their Lion Rock spirit. The show is hosted by businessman and philanthropist Patrick Tsang On-yip, lawyer and lawmaker Nick Chan Hiu-fung and seasoned business maverick Herman Hu Shao-ming.

Hosted by Nick Chan, episode 4 of Season 2 features Sunny Tan, elected Legislative Council member of the Hong Kong SAR representing the textiles and garment functional constituency; Chairman of the Hong Kong Productivity Council; and Executive Deputy Chairman of the Federation of Hong Kong Industries.

Tan is a senior advisor of Luen Thai Holdings, which produces 74 million pieces of garments a year. Founded by Tan’s father (renowned industrialist and philanthropist Dr Tan Siu-lin who is now the group’s honorary life chairman) in the 1960s, Luen Thai has grown from a small family-run business into one of the world’s leading manufacturers of apparels and accessories, employing over 50,000 people with 20 production facilities and offices globally. Growing up under the guidance of Dr. Tan, Tan has witnessed not only the growth of the company, but also the development of Hong Kong’s textiles and garment industry.

Evolution of Hong Kong’s apparel industry

Tan pointed out that Hong Kong’s textiles and garment industry started in the 50s and 60s with the capital and expertise from entrepreneurs coming from Shanghai and Guangdong, and the industry was booming from the 70s to 90s in Hong Kong. The manufacturers started building factories overseas from the mid-70s as their growth was impeded by the import quotas imposed by the US and European countries, and expanding into Mainland China aggressively after the country opened up in late 70s. They have achieved good growth in Mainland China, especially after the country’s accession to the WTO and the elimination of import quotas in early 2000s. However, with the rapid growth of the economy in Mainland China, the minimum wage of workers has gone up, making some manufacturers to move production back to overseas countries.

“Hong Kong businessmen have been playing a very significant and important role in the textiles and garment industry throughout these times, overcoming the challenges with their strong entrepreneurial spirit. For example, as our growth was limited by the import quotas introduced in the mid-70s, we tried very hard to find places where quota is available to build factories and ship the goods there, even places that we might not have heard of,” he said.

Digital transformation of manufacturing

Tan said the textiles and garment industry is now going through an evolution with Industry 4.0, or Fourth Industrial Revolution, which involves a lot of big and smart data to transform manufacturing, and solve some of the traditional inefficiency of the industry, such as the lack of data to make decisions. “What we’re trying to achieve is to have the entire supply chain communicates along with all the data points. For example, if we are able to shorten our production lead time, we will be able to channel the consumer behaviour closer to the market to decide what colour to make, and what style to make. It will eliminate a lot of unwanted and unnecessary inventory.”

Importance of family disciplines and values

In the program, Tan showed audience a framed “jia xun” (or family disciplinary rules in Chinese) as the item which has a special meaning in his life, shaping him into who he is today. This contains a total of 12 family disciplinary rules and values, including “Live with honesty and integrity”, “Work hard, don’t spend beyond your means and manage your household”, “Filial piety and love and respect for your siblings”, “Work together as a team to build the family business empire,” and “Serve the community and bring glory to your ancestors.”

“These were hand-written by my dad back in 1985. This is very important as it is guides us, especially when we are going through difficult times. What kind of values do we want to live up to? What kind of values do we want to leave to our children? How do we manage our family and household? It’s all in here,” he said.

Hong Kong to move forward to the next phase

Commenting on the future of Hong Kong, Tan said every city will be going through different phases of development. “We’ve been successful in going through those phases and now we’re just going through the next phase. What we can see is that Hong Kong can continue and will continue to leverage its ‘One Country, Two Systems’ advantage because we have China, our own country, behind us and supporting us. We are also facing the international market where Hong Kong has been very strong. Together with innovation and technology, Hong Kong will grow and we will need a lot of talents. I am sure that we, together with our younger generation, will be able to develop this opportunity into something that is good for all of us.”

To watch the video, visit Friday Everyday YouTube Channel – Friday Beyond Spotlights Season 2 Ep. 4 l Sunny Tan

Part 1: https://youtu.be/-9x25DP3YIQ

Part 2: https://youtu.be/SkkzY-r6Mkg

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