Businesses in China resume production and travel
Businesses in China resume production and travel
A month ago, Pro AVL Asia turned to China as the country cautiously returned to work. We catch up with manufacturers and distributors again to see what progress is being made as the country – and industry – restart life beyond Covid-19.
According to distributor Ruisheng, which handles European brands including TW Audio and RAM Audio, the virus is now well under control in the country. ‘Some of my colleagues have been travelling to follow up on business and provide technical support onsite,’ said Stanley Yau. ‘We’re installing a big corporate AV showroom project for appliances manufacturer, Galanz, and have just finished the final alignment for a new system at the Zhengzhou Grand Theatre.’ Yau’s optimism doesn’t yet extend to the live events and tourism markets, which have been greatly affected by the virus, with business in the two sectors nearly at zero. He also cites instability with products coming from his European suppliers, which is taking longer and affecting sales.
Chinese manufacturer SAE reports that business is building steadily after the company returned to work in early March. But anticipated problems in the supply chain are now occurring, and the company is trying to be as flexible as possible, reacting according to the different circumstances arising. ‘What we didn’t expect was the way the virus spread overseas so quickly, and, with so many countries in lockdown, this has greatly affected our international business,’ said company founder, Bill Lee, who’s hoping some relief can be provided by an upswing in domestic demand. Overall, Lee anticipates the next 2–3 months will continue to present difficulties, with a more positive situation emerging around June, and he’s feeling optimistic about the future as countries consider how to reboot their economies after recovery.
Adamson and Next-proaudio distributor Real-Music also went back to work in early March, having focused on providing remote training for its staff throughout February and only dealing with situations that needed urgent action during that time. Taking an optimistic approach, general manager Richie Wang said that while the virus had slowed down the rhythm of the whole market, this had given them time to think, and to improve their work. This has allowed the company to optimise its internal workflow and conduct training. Like Bill Lee at SAE, Wang also thinks the Chinese market won’t pick up until June, with large-scale shows only resuming in August and September. ‘The situations in Europe and the United States are not good, which has affected our lead times and logistics,’ he disclosed. ‘We need to be well-prepared to resume business in the second half of the year.’
Audio-Technica’s Beijing office reports that its service staff returned to work in February to provide after-sales support for its customers, implementing a day-on/day-off rota, with a 50% attendance rate helping with social distancing. Webinars to increase product knowledge have been introduced. Marketing manager Zhang Yali thinks that while it will take time for the market to recover, there are also opportunities such as a government policy to stimulate livestream shopping to boost the economy. ‘This will help our business in this market to develop very quickly, so we can plan our sales and marketing strategy accordingly,’ she said.
DMT pointed to China’s adoption of 5G as another market stimulus. ‘The industry is going to face difficulties and reshuffles this year, but we are still optimistic because there are still a lot of infrastructure projects going on,’ said DMT’s Ken Chang. ‘Chinese government policy is supporting the industry, we have the 5G opportunity and we also expect the live market to rebound.’
With branches across China, distributor Rightway has been restructuring the company since its 20th anniversary in 2017. All branches, which represent brands including L-Acoustics, DiGiCo and Calrec, are up and running, with the exception of Hubei province, where some staff have yet to return to work. The enforced lockdown has helped Rightway to expedite the corporate restructure, using the downtime for internal training and new staff hires. ‘We hope to provide more efficient support for our customers after they resume work,’ said marketing director, Hu Nan. To further support customers, Rightway has extended its product warranties, feeling strongly that domestic demand in China isn’t going to decrease. Hu also pointed to supply chain delays and rising logistics costs due to the slowdown in European and American manufacturing. While he isn’t optimistic about the entertainment industry in the short term due to restrictions regarding large gatherings, he believes the pandemic has given Rightway the opportunity to rethink and improve, and he feels this can apply to the wider industry. Only time will tell.