China now Suntory's most important market
As 2021 marks the beginning of China's 14th Five-Year Plan, Tetsuho Kikuchi, director president of Suntory (China) Holding Co, shared his goals for the next five years.
"Personally, I'm looking forward to taking journeys to more places in China to see more of the country's scenery as well as the culture and customs of different areas," he added. He has visited 25 cities in China so far.
For the company, he plans to further promote the Suntory brand to more regions in the country, hoping it becomes more of a household name in China.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the company suffered a 5 percent retreat in its global business, while the Chinese market turned out to be a rare bright spot where Suntory saw positive figures for 2020 sustaining its performance in 2019 "thanks to China’s effective prevention and control of the pandemic and the steady economic recovery," Kikuchi said.
“Based on the surprising performance of the Chinese market in 2020, our Japanese headquarters has asked us to further increase our sales in China from around 2 billion yuan (US$310 million) to 20 billion yuan over the next decade, expanding its business from the East China market to the whole country,” he added.
“We now see China as the most important market in the world, and Suntory wants to keep pace with China’s growing economy.”
Looking back on his more than 10 years in Shanghai, Kikuchi said what impressed him most were the major changes in the city during the Shanghai World Expo.
The environment at that time saw significant improvements, with all citizens having positive responses to the call for a “better city, better life,” starting small and making their own efforts to help make the city a more beautiful place, he said.
Kikuchi spoke highly of the city's improvements in the business environment, highlighting the city's efforts to expand opening-up, reduce restrictions for foreign capital, and cut red tape in administrative processes.
Kikuchi is looking forward to the Spring Festival.
“I am going to have Chinese food with my friends on New Year’s Eve,” he said. “I’m looking forward to my first experience of the Spring Festival in China, when I can visit some of Shanghai’s most famous attractions during the holiday.”