22 October 2015 ~ 0 Comments

Buying British – Global Times interview

logoLeading entrepreneurs from the UK share their experiences of doing business in China

By Yin Lu Source:Global Times Published: 2015-10-22 21:23:01

British business owners thrive in different industries in China by exerting the UK's strengths. Photo: IC
Have you noticed that among the 20 million Beijing dwellers, a small group of them are being influenced by British culture and trends? They drive British vintage cars, eat British desserts, join English football clubs, and follow the latest trends in UK fashion.

These changes have been brought about by a growing number of British business professionals in the city's trade, culture, food and sports sectors.

In 2014, there were 19,567 British citizens living in the country - a 7.8 percent growth compared to 2012, according to data provided by the British Embassy in Beijing.

In light of President Xi Jinping's visit to the UK, Metropolitan rounded up four high-profile British business professionals to speak about their experiences and vision. Hailing from different backgrounds, what these professionals have in common is knowing how to use the British cultural influence in its strongest sectors, to their advantage.

Improved Sino-British relations have also made them dream even bigger about the possibilities of growing their businesses in China. They have done more than just change a recipe to cater to local tastes or learn the language to socialize better with Chinese clients. They are here to influence the cultural scene and foster firm business relations.

Jim James is one of the most experienced pioneers of British business owners in Beijing. Photo: Courtesy of Jim James


Jim James
"We want to build a classic car culture in China."

48, Managing Director of Morgan Cars Limited

At the Bund Classic in Shanghai last week, an event for classic, historical and vintage car enthusiasts, James felt unprecedented interest and enthusiasm for his cars from Chinese people.

"Both the consumers and trade [partners] in China have understood the UK is a very rich source of products and base in the car business."

The reputation of the UK as a center for car design, and especially its rich heritage of brands, has been recognized all over the world, said James. "The British are creative about the styling of cars, and have a great tradition of making cars look fabulous and not so much just to buy."

While he was building the China office of his public relations company which he founded in Singapore, James revisited the young boy inside of him who grew up loving sports cars. He was able to live out that passion by founding the British sports car dealership in China in 2011.

In his vision for the car business, James thinks big. "What we hope to do in future, is to build a classic car culture in China."

"Now China is the largest automotive market in the world," he said. "Leisure lifestyle vehicles are only just beginning to grow in China. There's a very exciting burst in the last years in classic car venues, sales and people wanting to learn about the history of classic cars, their styling and their performance." The challenge for a small brand like Morgan lies in tackling the large and dynamic Chinese market, he added.

James thinks the UK's overall understanding of China and the understanding of the UK in China will benefit from President Xi's visit to Britain. "[All my businesses] will benefit. Because more people will be looking at China to see how they can access this market."

An active leader in Beijing's business circles, James co-founded the British Business Awards, and the Beijing chapter of the Global Entrepreneurs Organization. Over the years, he has come to know more young British people coming to China looking to start up their companies.

"It's a very exciting development. They build very good communities to support one another in their ventures," he said.

Other Global Times interviews:

Entrepreneurs make cross-cultural connections at EO Beijing

Morgan showroom to sell retro British cars with eye on luxury market

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