Lee Kee Group – Hong Kong solutions provider for metals anticipates Belt and Road-related growth in Southeast Asia region
As Belt and Road-related business opportunities continue to emerge in Southeast Asia, Lee Kee Group, a Hong Kong-based solutions provider for metals, believes demand for its products and services will continue to grow.
Lee Kee, which was set-up as a scrap metal recycling firm by Chan's great-grandfather in Hong Kong in 1947, has been widely recognised as the pioneer in the metals community. Lee Kee opened a regional office in Singapore in June 2017 to provide sales and distribution services plus technical consultancy services to new and existing clients moving into the region. "Southeast Asia is a pivot part of Belt and Road Initiative," noted Clara Chan, Lee Kee's CEO and the fourth-generation family member to head the 70-year-old company. "We have been serving the Southeast Asia market for many years. In the last few years, we witnessed the rapid growth of manufacturing activities in the region. An office in Singapore enables us to cater the needs of new and existing customers better while keeping us abreast of the regional development to grasp upcoming opportunities," Chan said.
Chan said the Belt and Road Initiative came along at time when Hong Kong’s businesses were looking for new opportunities. With Southeast Asia as one of the primary focus regions of the Initiative, a notable number of mainland manufacturers had been moving to the region to take advantage of close proximity to these emerging markets while participating in Belt and Road-related infrastructure and associated projects. Lower labour cost is also a driving force. "Manufacturing cost in the Chinese mainland is escalating and the manufacturing industry is undergoing transformation. A lot of mainland manufacturers are moving their traditional manufacturing capacity to Southeast Asia. Wherever they are, the need of reliable metals is the same, and we support our customers whenever, wherever they need us," Chan explained. Lee Kee offers a broad portfolio of metals including zinc, aluminium, nickel, copper as well as zinc alloy, aluminium alloy, stainless steel and electroplating chemicals. "We create value not only by providing standard alloys but offering our customers custom-made alloys that best suit their design and product needs," Chan said.
On the other hand, Southeast Asian companies are increasing their demand for professional services that Lee Kee offers. In addition to producing and distributing metals, Lee Kee's businesses activities include quality assurance, testing and technical consultancy services. Its laboratory was the first in Hong Kong accredited in the Metals and Metallic Alloys category by The Hong Kong Laboratory Accreditation Scheme (HOKLAS) and is an approved LME Listed Sampler and Assayer (LSA). The company’s customers span across more than 20 sectors ranging from automobiles to toys to household hardware items and fashion accessories. "By working closely with our customers on improving their defect rate and enhancing their productivity, we help our customers to be more competitive. This is how we ensure that Lee Kee is their partner of choice," added Chan. There is no doubt that newly-established manufacturing enterprises would appreciate any insights that would help them upgrade their operation and build quality products efficiently.
Chan believed Hong Kong's extensive international business and cultural connections, its use of English and Chinese and its sophisticated financial and legal systems provided the city with a competitive edge as a facilitator for Belt and Road projects. Besides, Hong Kong businessmen are agile, innovative and proactive. Chan gave an example of her setting up Lee Kee's brokerage services in Hong Kong. The extension of Lee Kee’s scope of services was considered a bold move by many in the metals community yet it was a testament to Hong Kong's strength and reputation as an international finance centre. "We differentiate ourselves by providing a platform for our customers that covers their risk exposure to products, raw materials and pricing," Chan explained. She said the rigorous regulations and compliance rules Hong Kong implements provide brokerage customers with confidence.
As CEO, Chan led the family business to its successfully listing on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in 2006. She also ensured that Lee Kee secured its position among the world's premier metal players by becoming a member of the London Metal Exchange (LME). "Being a LME member enables us to share China’s metals market situation on an international platform to enhance mutual understanding and communication," Chan said. She added that membership of the exclusive industry body provides an endorsement of its international-standard operations and management system which she found valuable when the corporation entered a new regional market.
Furthermore, she believed the far-reaching scope of the Belt and Road Initiative provided a prime opportunity for young Hong Kong people to widen their horizons by learning about different cultures and the various ways business are conducted across the Belt and Road countries. "The Initiative will provide invaluable learning opportunities and it is important for young people to approach opportunities with an open mind-set," Chan said.