Setting Its Sights On Further Growth

Jonathan Quek, Managing Director of BreadTalk Group

As a child, Jonathan Quek and his siblings spent their weekends trailing their parents on site visits to various outlets of the F&B business they had founded. In 2000, George Quek and Katherine Lee started that enterprise, BreadTalk, with just one outlet in Singapore selling signature items such as their now-famous “Flosss” buns.

BreadTalk has since grown into a leading F&B group that is home to a stable of well-known brands, with around 660 outlets across 14 international markets in Asia, the Middle East and the U.K. The company directly owns brands such as BreadTalk, Toast Box and Food Republic, and the franchise rights for partner brands like Taiwanese restaurant chain Din Tai Fung in Singapore, Thailand and the U.K.

The Quek family holds a 74.9% stake in the BreadTalk Group through their investment firm, while Thai multinational Minor International owns the remaining 25.1%.

Quek’s early exposure to the family business laid the groundwork for his understanding of the industry’s dynamics. From his parents, he learnt the importance of paying attention to detail, engaging deeply with customers and being a hands-on manager.

After completing his higher education in London, Quek returned to Singapore amid the Covid-19 pandemic to join BreadTalk Group. “We saw that our parents were busy fighting the crisis, so it was natural for my siblings and me to come aboard to help out in any way we could,” says Quek, who is now 29 years old.

Despite being the bosses’ son, there was no corner office waiting for Quek when he started in 2020. Rather, his first job was at a suburban BreadTalk outlet where he handled everything from cashiering to serving customers. This on-the-ground experience was critical in helping him understand the day-to-day challenges of running the business.

Over the next two years, he rose up the company’s ranks to manage eight, then 40 stores. By 2023, he was promoted to Managing Director, overseeing the bakery division and its 160 outlets across Singapore and Thailand. Quek’s older sister, Joselle, heads the group’s R&D efforts, while his younger brother, Matthew, runs the restaurant division.

Quek’s management style during the pandemic highlighted his capacity to lead with compassion, as he focused on alleviating staff burdens and enhancing their job security and workplace conditions. He is also known for being approachable and responsive, qualities that have fostered a strong, collaborative environment in the teams he leads.

Emerging Stronger from Crisis

To deal with the fallout from the pandemic, the BreadTalk Group revitalized its product lineup by introducing items tailored to changing consumer preferences. The group also streamlined its operations by employing new technology to reduce costs and improve efficiency.

BreadTalk redesigned its store layouts at major shopping malls, including Westgate, NEX, Raffles City and Plaza Singapura, to enhance the customer experience, making them more modern and inviting to a younger audience.

Learning from its pandemic experience, the company also sought to reduce its reliance on the retail channel by introducing consumer products that are based on the group’s signature items such as kaya, coffee and cookies from its various brands. The products are sold at supermarkets or through e-commerce platforms.

These strategic adjustments, combined with a focused expansion in both existing and new markets while maintaining high standards of quality and consistency, propelled BreadTalk Group to register close to S$600 million (US$446 million) in revenue in 2023.

Looking ahead, the group has set its sights on an even more ambitious target of hitting S$1 billion (US$738 million) in revenue by 2029. “We are still mindful when it comes to expansion. We want to maintain that financial prudence, and be more selective in how we expand,” Quek says.

Food Republic, Din Tai Fung and Toast Box are among the brands under the BreadTalk Group.

Betting Big on Innovation

A big part of the BreadTalk Group’s success in recent years has boiled down to its pursuit of innovation across its operations. The group’s R&D efforts have introduced fusion products like the “Crookie,” a blend of a croissant and a cookie, capturing the fancy of Gen Z and millennial consumers. The R&D team continuously scouts for viral trends and popular flavors that resonate with a global audience and integrate these insights into their product
development process.

BreadTalk has also embraced technology to ramp up its productivity in the face of rising costs and a tight labor market. For instance, the group introduced new equipment at one of its production departments to increase its capacity. This centralized department now supplies to all BreadTalk outlets, improving quality and product consistency across all its stores, while reducing the brand’s reliance on manpower.

Catering to Local Tastes

To expand globally, BreadTalk Group employs a strategy that combines direct ownership and franchising to ensure that its core offerings remain consistent across all markets, while also adapting to local tastes. Singapore currently contributes the majority of the group’s revenue, with Greater China the next largest contributor.

Around 80% of the products offered in the group’s overseas markets are made up of its signature items, while the remaining 20% are dedicated to variations designed for local preferences. For instance, one of BreadTalk’s bestsellers in Thailand is a yam coconut bun, which combines fragrant Thai ingredients. Meanwhile, at Taiwanese eatery Din Tai Fung’s outlet in London, British beef is used in its signature dumplings. The U.K. restaurant also features a bar, which has proven to be popular among local patrons; alcoholic beverages now account for a significant proportion of its sales.

“We try to find ways to incorporate local ingredients into our products to cater to local tastes and celebrate the culture,” says Quek.

Expanding its Global Footprint

The BreadTalk Group continues to seek global expansion, with an eye on new markets such as North America and Australia, as well as accelerating growth in India. In its established markets, the group plans to add four to five Din Tai Fung restaurants in London, supplementing the existing three. The group also sees the potential for significant growth in Thailand and China.

To fund its expansion, BreadTalk may return to the equity markets via an initial public offering in the future. The company had initially listed on the Singapore Exchange in 2003, before privatizing in 2020.

The potential listing would provide the company with the financial resources it requires to accelerate its entry into new markets, fund innovation in product development and enhance the customer experience.

Says Quek: “We want to keep the momentum going, and raising capital from the markets is one way to help us expand quickly. Having different investors who have different experiences and backgrounds will also be helpful.”

www.breadtalk.com

Powering The Growth Of Global Commerce And Travel

Singapore’s Yue Hwa department store welcomes Alipay+ transactions.

With the rapid revival of global commerce and tourism in the past two years, crossborder digital payments solutions are playing an increasingly pivotal role in shaping how consumers pay for their purchases abroad. Against this backdrop, innovative platforms such as Alipay+ are meeting rising demand for convenient and secure payment methods.

Many consumers in the region have only recently joined the cashless payments revolution, with many more expected in the coming years. According to the World Bank, more than 80 million adults in India and over 100 million in China made their first digital payment after the onset of the pandemic. In Southeast Asia, digital payments using e-wallets are expected to grow more than fivefold to over US$114 billion by 2025, from just US$22 billion in 2019, according to research by PwC.

“There has been a surge in consumers and travelers globally going cashless in recent years, and many payments solutions have emerged to cater to this growing demand,” says Douglas Feagin, President of Ant International.

Meanwhile, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are leveraging Alipay+ to reach this growing segment of consumers utilizing e-wallets and digital payments. As SMEs account for a substantial portion of economic activity globally, their growth is critical for economic resilience and growth.

By adopting cross-border digital payment solutions like those offered by Alipay+, SMEs can enhance their operational efficiencies and access broader markets. This is especially vital in a landscape where digital transactions are rapidly becoming the norm, influenced by consumer preferences for convenience and safety.

The group says Alipay+, the flagship product of Ant International, connects over 88 million merchants to 1.5 billion user accounts on over 25 e-wallets and banking apps across 57 countries and regions.

Online merchants accepting payments powered by Alipay+ come from sectors favored by global mobile-savvy users, including digital and entertainment, e-commerce, tourism and online-to-offline, encompassing Apple, Disney+, NBA, Amazon, Agoda and foodpanda, among others.

For Asian and European offline retailers, Alipay+ is enabled for payments across sectors including food & beverage, tourism and hospitality, retail and transportation. These include merchants such as Universal Studios in Japan, duty-free shops in South Korea, Printemps in France and the Duomo of Milan in Italy.

Alipay+ is also connected to the national QRs in Singapore, Malaysia and South Korea, and available through partnerships in Cambodia and Sri Lanka, enabling even the smallest local merchants to benefit from digital tourism, while allowing tourists to have a fully localized experience.

This expansive reach not only facilitates seamless and secure transactions, but also enriches the travel experience for millions as it enables them to make purchases without the hassle of costly currency conversion or carrying cash.

Alipay+ recently expanded its reach in Japan, connecting with 2 million merchants to cater to the influx of global tourists arriving for the cherry blossom season. With Alipay+, tourists can conveniently conduct cross border transactions in a wide range of establishments, from luxury boutiques in Tokyo to traditional tea houses in Kyoto, using their preferred e-wallets.

Alipay+ aims to meet the rising demand for convenient and secure payment methods.

Opening Doors to Financial Services

In countries where credit card penetration remains relatively low, digital payments empower more individuals to engage in cross-border commerce and travel. In particular, Alipay+ caters to the needs of a younger demographic in Southeast Asia who may not yet have access to credit cards.

With Alipay+, users can utilize their own e-wallets while abroad, eliminating the need for multiple payment platforms and ensuring a smooth transaction process regardless of geographic location. This approach not only simplifies payments, but also promotes a more inclusive and accessible global financial ecosystem.

“Alipay+ is fostering financial inclusion on a global scale beyond the shores of your home country. With our cross-border payments solution, more people will find it easier and more cost effective to travel or make purchases,” says Feagin. He adds: “By offering such a convenient platform for travelers to make payments overseas, we are helping to facilitate global tourism, travel and commerce.”

He adds: “By offering such a convenient platform for travelers to make payments overseas, we are helping to facilitate global tourism, travel and commerce.”

Forging International Partnerships

Alipay+ is also making its presence felt at international events, such as this year’s Euro Cup in Germany. Alipay signed an eight-year deal to become UEFA men’s national team football sponsor from 2018 to 2026, including UEFA EURO 2024 and the UEFA Nations League finals.

For UEFA EURO 2024, Alipay+ is expanding its coverage by enabling more payment partner apps to be accepted across Germany and other popular European destinations.

This will involve connecting users of 13 international e-wallets and bank apps to tens of thousands of merchant stores across Germany, including in popular districts like Kurfürstendamm in Berlin, and Hofbräuhaus and Maximilianstraße in Munich.

This collaboration is expected to enhance the experience for Asian football fans traveling to Germany, as it offers them a familiar payment option.

Such strategic partnerships reflect Alipay+’s commitment to supporting the growth of global tourism and commerce, reinforcing its position as a key player shaping the future of cross-border digital payments.

Says Feagin: “By offering secure, efficient and accessible payment solutions, Alipay+ not only meets the demands of a digitally savvy global population, but also paves the way for a more connected and inclusive global economy.”

 

www.alipayplus.com

www.antglobal.com

A Foodie’s Guide To Hong Kong

As one of the most vibrant food capitals in the world, Hong Kong is a playground for travelers looking for a culinary adventure. From hidden gems and cozy eateries to Michelin-starred restaurants and longstanding crowd favorites, the city caters to diverse tastes and occasions. Whether you’re exploring the laneways of Sheung Wan or the charming neighborhood of Sai Ying Pun, enjoy the best foodie experience on your next trip to Hong Kong.

Ready to dig in? Check out these restaurants that are dishing up all things delicious.

Lung King Heen

Lung King Heen

What is it: Lung King Heen is a Cantonese restaurant boasting two Michelin stars, favored by Hong Kong’s elite and seasoned travelers alike.
Best for: Families
Why you shouldn’t miss it: Lung King Heen is the world’s first Cantonese restaurant to achieve the coveted three Michelin stars, which it retained for more than a decade. Today, its culinary standards remain unparalleled. Enjoy delicate dim sum, succulent roast meats and nourishing double-boiled soups, crafted from premium ingredients sourced globally. Additionally, there’s a menu tailored for children.
Insider’s tip: Pair your food with a selection of organic sparkling teas or ask the sommelier for wine recommendations.
Address: 4/F, Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong, 8 Finance Street, Central

Yong Fu Hong Kong

Yong Fu Hong Kong

What is it: Yong Fu Hong Kong is the first outpost of the Shanghai-based brand renowned for its refined Ningbo cuisine.
Best for: Power lunches
Why you shouldn’t miss it: The restaurant occupies two floors, with private rooms on the upper level. Head Chef Liu Zhen, who has been with the original branch since its establishment in 2011, leads the culinary team. Under his guidance, Yong Fu Hong Kong has earned a Michelin star for its intricate dishes showcasing fresh, seasonal ingredients. Signature items include raw mud crab in wine and ginger, as well as yellow croaker soup.
Insider’s tip: For larger groups, consider reserving a private room. Certain menu items, like the crispy chicken, require advance ordering.
Address: Shop 2 G/F & 1/F Golden Star Building, 20-24 Lockhart Road, Wanchai

Mott 32

Mott 32

What is it: With eight restaurants worldwide, the group’s flagship Hong Kong venue has gained a reputation for its fresh spin on Cantonese cuisine with influences from Beijing and Sichuan.
Best for: Date nights
Why you shouldn’t miss it: Mott 32 sets the stage for a romantic evening with its intimate and inviting ambiance. Dimly lit interiors feature exposed brick walls, dark leather and modern Chinese artworks. Indulge in the melt-in-the-mouth Kobe and wagyu beef, barbecued Iberico pork and fresh seafood.
Insider’s tip: Cozy up at the bar counter, designed to resemble a traditional Chinese apothecary, and enjoy signature cocktails while sharing plates of savory nibbles. A dedicated vegetarian menu is available for those who prefer meat-free options.
Address: Basement, Standard Chartered Bank Building, 4-4A Des Voeux Road Central, Central

Cucina

Cucina

What is it: This much-loved restaurant dishes up hearty Italian fare alongside sweeping views of Victoria Harbour.
Best for: Date nights
Why you shouldn’t miss it: You can expect specialties inspired by the chef’s hometown, Piedmont, known for its fall truffles and wine. Keep an eye out for special menus offered during truffle season and chef collaborations for a truly exclusive gastronomic experience.
Insider’s tip: For the best harbor views, ask for a table tucked away in the far corner of the dining room. Plan your dinner around the 8 p.m. “A Symphony of Lights”—a dazzling display of light and sound that transforms Victoria Harbour and its surrounding skyscrapers.
Address: 6/F Marco Polo Hongkong Hotel, 3 Canton Road, Harbour City, Tsim Sha Tsui

The Centurion® Lounge

Lobster Bar and Grill

Lobster Bar and Grill

What is it: A chic hotel hotspot blending classy interiors, British and American classics, and expertly crafted cocktails.
Best for: Leisurely brunches with friends
Why you shouldn’t miss it: Indulge in a nostalgic culinary journey at the Lobster Bar and Grill, offering an array of perfectly executed timeless dishes like prawn cocktail, lobster thermidor and beef Wellington. Treat yourself to the overflowing seafood tower brimming with the freshest seasonal delights.
Insider’s tip: Regulars love the Sunday roast lunch, accompanied by free-flowing wine or champagne.
Address: 6/F Pacific Place, Island Shangri-La, Pacific Place, Supreme Court Road, Central

The restaurants listed above are part of The Platinum Card® Global Dining Credit. Explore a curated selection of over 2,000 restaurants in 20 countries to enjoy this benefit. As a Platinum Member, you will receive up to S$400 (US$296) in statement credits each calendar year, comprising S$200 (US$148) for use at over 25 restaurants in Singapore and S$200 (US$148) for use at over 2,000 restaurants abroad, when you dine at some of the world’s best restaurants. Whether it’s a new dining experience locally or on the other side of the world, Platinum will take care of it.

Your food adventure does not end there. Before your departure, indulge in a final treat as a Platinum Member at The Centurion® Lounge at Hong Kong International Airport. Sip on signature cocktails created by Jim Meehan from PDT at The Landmark Mandarin Oriental in Hong Kong or explore wines handpicked by renowned wine authority Anthony Giglio.

The buffet showcases an array of delectable Asian cuisines that are highly favored by discernable American Express Card members. From the flavorful fish maw soup to the delightful dim sum and the aromatic Indian dishes, the diverse selection leaves you spoilt for choice. The lounge offers an array of amenities catering to both business and leisure travelers.

The Centurion® Lounge is located on level 7 of Terminal 1. Once you are through security, simply take the escalator or elevator located just before Gate 60. From Michelin-starred hot spots to hidden gems, embark on a gastronomic journey and discover new favorites with The Platinum Card. Find out more today at go.amex/sg-fbasia.


The benefits mentioned in this article pertain to The Platinum Card issued in Singapore. For cards issued in other countries, please visit their respective websites.  

go.amex/sg-fbasia

 

 

 

Enchantment Behind Closed Doors At St. Martin

Richard Mille has always understood the importance of delighting and inspiring its dedicated base of customers and fans. The watchmaker’s track record for innovation, design and engineering speaks for itself—any endeavor associated with the brand is one pursued to perfection.

When the opportunity arose to expand its retail presence in Singapore, Richard Mille seized the moment to usher in a new chapter—one that would better articulate its spirit and values while redefining known boundaries of the bespoke customer experience.

Beyond delivering expertise through horological masterpieces, the optimal customer environment would set the stage for the creation of unforgettable personal moments—a move meriting a critical revaluation and reimagination of the entire customer experience.

Turning Concept Into Reality

From the very beginning, it was decided that such an environment would feature a mosaic of materials and influences and serve as a vibrant living space that was as elegant as it was exclusive. An environment not unlike the Prohibition-era clubs where discretion and secrecy were the order of the day. As with these speakeasies, an unassuming façade would conceal a surprising venue deeper within. This is the unambiguous allure of St. Martin, Richard Mille’s new flagship venue situated on a generous 700-square-meter site within the Orchard Road district.

“This venue awakens emotions and elevates the art of hospitality so dear to Richard Mille, thanks in particular to an innovative vision,” says Amanda Mille, Brand and Partnerships Director at Richard Mille. “Bespoke design and innovation are harnessed to serve conviviality. Everyone should be able to feel entirely at ease and relaxed in the spaces. As always, a sense of family, encounters and watchmaking know-how are at the heart of what we do.”

To create such an ambience, a bespoke approach would be the rule and not the exception. The vast majority of the furniture and decorative elements were created and designed specifically for St. Martin. Behind the scenes, the brand’s in-house architecture team labored for three consecutive years to turn concept into reality. Nearly 30 specialists contributed to the layout and decoration of the different spaces. From leather to wood, metal, stone and glass, over 250 material variations would be employed before the project was deemed complete.

Elevating the Art of Hospitality

While every artisan called upon was keen to surpass their own limits to meet the requirements of this unique space, the highlight of St. Martin is undoubtedly the work of French visual artist William Amor—an olive tree that takes root at the center of the Hub, the nerve center of St. Martin. Amor’s work embodies loyalty and resilience while evoking the Mediterranean basin so dear to Richard Mille.

“The architectural organization of St. Martin creates a feeling of astonishment at not having guessed such a space could exist behind this door,” adds Alexandre Mille, Brand Director. “Discovering it makes you wonder what the next surprise will be. Our intention was to play with visitors’ expectations.”

The Hub is also home to a majestic library characterized by curved lines that hosts a broad and eclectic range of works linked to the brand’s sources of inspiration—cars, art, sport, cinema, music, architecture, history, aeronautics and science. Enveloping this space is a gorgeous circular, floor-to-ceiling wine cellar constructed of curved glass and designed to store Grand Cru wines in optimal conditions.

A watchmaker’s workbench lies just beyond where a watchmaker is always on hand to answer customer queries or provide after-sales service. From the Hub, the journey within St. Martin extends to the Crafting Space, the Restaurant, the Bar, the Sport bar, the Riad and the Hidden Library. Each space is truly distinct, commanding its own identity and evoking stories and memories of travel, history and culture.

An indisputable tour de force of design, St. Martin promises to be both destination and journey—a source of diverse experiences and emotions, and the sharing of know-how and passion in an atmosphere of conviviality and exquisite hospitality.

Richard Mille St. Martin is located at 1 St. Martin’s Drive, Singapore 257988.


www.richardmille.com

Elegance With A Dash Of Intensity

Henry Jacques has been handcrafting the world’s finest perfumes for close to five decades. In an industry well-known for its adherence to tradition, the bespoke French perfumer has always stood apart by virtue of its penchant for driving innovation in the olfactory arts.

The 2021 launch of Clic-Clac, a contemporary object that houses a solid perfume capsule, perfectly captures the DNA of Henry Jacques and symbolizes the maison’s synchronicity of innovation and heritage.

Successful innovative endeavors, however, do not always come from within. Core to Henry Jacques’ efforts to drive creative growth have been its collaborations with style icons and cultural trendsetters. Only last year, the haute parfumerie maison unveiled In All Intimacy—a collection of three extraordinary perfumes made for tennis legend Rafael Nadal and his wife María Perelló.

The couple worked closely with Henry Jacques to channel their hearts, tastes and connection to the Mediterranean into the three unique fragrances that comprise In All Intimacy. In developing the collection, Nadal and Perelló drew inspiration from the scents that defined their home in Mallorca—orange blossom, citrus, bergamot, jasmine, lavender and thyme.

A Prized Collectible

Taking this successful collaboration to the next phase, Henry Jacques is pleased to announce the launch of a limited edition Clic-Clac designed exclusively for Rafael Nadal himself—the Clic-Clac Rafael Nadal Edition.

This version retains the minimalist, avant-garde lines of the Clic-Clac, along with the use of grade 5 titanium for the outer case. What sets the Rafael Nadal Edition apart is the sweeping accent line in the distinct shade evocative of a tennis ball. A subtle dash of color that could very well turn a cult favorite into a prized collectible.

With a form factor reminiscent of the archetypal lighter, Clic-Clac is intuitively recognizable as an heirloom-grade companion. One that marks its owner as an individual of means and subtlety. A swift flick of the wrist opens the case to reveal the capsule-encased balm. Owners can now select a capsule-encased fragrance from any of 50 available across the core Classiques collection. These include the couple’s range of personalized scents such as the Rafael Nadal No. 1, Rafael Nadal No. 2 and Maria Perello.

Unlike traditional perfumes, Clic-Clac was designed from the beginning to be an intimate and portable daily companion—one that could be tucked comfortably into a pocket or slipped into a handbag. More than an accessory, Clic-Clac was also conceived to serve as your personal talisman—an inseparable objet d’art that, over the course of time, would evoke joy and rekindle memories at every touch.

The launch of the Clic-Clac Rafael Nadal Edition also commemorates the completion of In All Intimacy since the perfumes are now available across the three forms true to the Henry Jacques philosophy—solid, spray (Les Brumes), and essences (Les Classiques).

For more information about the Clic-Clac Rafael Nadal Edition and the time-honored principles and craftsmanship that go into Henry Jacques perfumes, visit
parfumshenryjacques.com.

MUWA NISEKO: Unwind And Ski In Wellness Wonderland

Infinity onsen

In December 2023, MUWA, the luxury home and hospitality brand, unveiled MUWA NISEKO, situated on the powdery slopes of Niseko in Hokkaido, Japan. As one of the world’s top ski destinations, Niseko receives an annual snowfall ranging from 39 to 52 feet, providing about 120 days of ski trail operation. The fine quality of the powder is so iconic that it’s been dubbed Japow, short for Japan Powder.

Niseko, acknowledged globally as a winter haven for skiing enthusiasts attracted to its renowned powder snow, eagerly anticipates the imminent arrival of premier luxury resorts. The introduction of MUWA NISEKO is viewed as a significant milestone in the evolution of these upscale destinations, marking the onset of a new era in luxury experiences.

MUWA NISEKO, positioned as a premium wellness retreat, offers distinctive experiences rooted in its stunning natural surroundings and distinguished by its prominent location. Nestled in the Grand Hirafu area, MUWA NISEKO is a unique architectural marvel reminiscent of a mountain village right in the heart of Hokkaido, Japan. Thanks to its extraordinary location, guests not only enjoy picturesque landscapes but can also directly step into the famed “Niseko Powder” from the ski-in, ski-out room terraces.

After a day on the ski slopes, visitors have the opportunity to immerse themselves in the heart of MUWA NISEKO’s wellness offerings, which include an infinity onsen boasting picturesque views. The presence of Mount Yotei, often regarded as Niseko’s Mount Fuji, establishes a serene backdrop for relaxation and rejuvenation. Furthermore, the integration of a tea ceremony during the onsen experience introduces an exclusive dimension to well-being rarely found elsewhere. Customized spa services complete the all-encompassing therapeutic experience in an Eastern-inspired setting, addressing both physical and mental well-being.

MUWA NISEKO offers guests the chance to indulge in prestigious Michelin dining experiences from Japan, showcasing menus enriched with seasonal ingredients. The Italian all-day dining at HITO by Tacubo, curated by the owner-chef of Tokyo’s acclaimed Michelin one-star restaurant Tacubo since 2017, presents an exclusive opportunity. Additionally, patrons can partake in the 112-year legacy of SUKIYAKI HIYAMA, a Michelin one-star restaurant, acknowledged for a decade. Both venues provide meticulously crafted menus featuring locally sourced Hokkaido ingredients, ensuring a culinary experience of the highest caliber.

Guest suite with a view

MUWA NISEKO is poised to offer tailor-made tours through its dedicated concierge service. Carefully crafted to capture the essence of Niseko’s changing seasons, these excursions present opportunities for activities, culinary delights, and family-oriented adventures surrounded by nature. Beyond the winter allure, there are compelling reasons to explore MUWA NISEKO even during the summer months.

MUWA NISEKO features seven floors and a total of 113 rooms, providing exclusive advantages to guests like seasonal booking privileges and 24/7 concierge service. The accommodations come in diverse options, including direct slope access with ski-in, ski-out rooms, selections featuring secluded outdoor hot springs for enjoying Niseko’s scenic beauty, and luxurious penthouses in Grand Hirafu showcasing unmatched vistas and upscale amenities.

Comprehensive details regarding MUWA NISEKO, as well as inquiries pertaining to reservations and ownership, may be addressed through the official website.
Website: muwaniseko.com
Phone: +81-136-23-0955

 

On Track For Steady Recovery

Japan’s economy is poised for continued moderate recovery, fueled by increasing private consumption, favorable financial conditions and the government’s economic measures. Despite global economic challenges in 2023, exports and industrial production have remained relatively stable due to a reduction in supply-side constraints. Corporate profits have remained high, reflecting an overall improvement in business sentiment. Japan’s stock market made historic gains in 2023.

The tourism sector in Japan has been a standout performer, demonstrating steady growth in 2023. The country welcomed around 22.3 million visitors from January to November 2023, according to Japan National Tourism Organization. The boost in tourist arrivals was supported by a resumption in international flights to 80% of pre-pandemic levels, as demand from Southeast Asia, North America, Europe and Australia grew.

Looking into 2024, Japan’s economy is expected to sustain growth, primarily driven by robust domestic demand. The yen, having weakened in 2023, may strengthen against the US dollar if the Bank of Japan rapidly normalizes its monetary policy, according to financial services group Nomura. Promising sectors include semiconductor production equipment exports, benefiting from the bottoming of the inventory cycle and peaking U.S. interest rates. Domestically, growth opportunities are evident in sectors such as systems and applications, real estate and food, says Nomura.

While the positive trajectory is encouraging, the Japanese economy faces headwinds from the slowdown in foreign economies, global monetary tightening and concerns about the Chinese economy. Additionally, geopolitical tensions and market volatility continue to be downside risks.

In navigating uncertainties, corporate leaders are adopting innovative strategies to sustain growth. Akihiro Teramachi, Chairman and CEO of THK, emphasizes the importance of flexibility and having the right mindset in capitalizing on business opportunities amid the ongoing wave of change. THK’s approach involves integrating hardware and digital technologies into manufacturing processes and end-products, particularly for the automotive, robotics, semiconductor and electronic component sectors. The company’s linear motion components, for example, can be incorporated into electric cars, making them energy-saving, energy-efficient, compact and powerful. Such solutions could have a substantial impact on the growth of Japan’s automotive industry.

Beyond profits, businesses are recognizing the significance of corporate social responsibility. Soy sauce maker Kikkoman, with a history spanning over 300 years, is committed to being a good corporate citizen. Honorary CEO and Chairman of the Board Yuzaburo Mogi highlights the company’s dedication to working with local communities for the long term. Kikkoman has pledged a total of US$5 million to the University of Wisconsin to advance research into sustainable crop cultivation and the environmental conditions of the Great Lakes water system.

Seiko Epson is also making headway in realizing its Environmental Vision 2050, staying true to the spirit of its founders in protecting the local environment. The company aims to become carbon negative and eliminate the use of non-renewable underground resources such as petroleum and metal ores by 2050. As a global printing leader, Epson came up with the Dry Fiber Technology, a paper recycling process that preserves water and wood resources and reduces carbon dioxide. Epson’s long-standing dedication to efficient, compact and precise innovation is ingrained in its DNA, reflecting both technological prowess and a strong commitment to reducing environmental impact.

In the face of global challenges, Japan’s economy remains resilient, fortified by the dynamism of its corporations and a sustained commitment to innovation.

ESG: Staying The Course

As businesses face increasing scrutiny of their impact on the world, Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) considerations have risen to the forefront of the corporate strategy. Companies are now actively seeking ways to safeguard and grow their businesses while ensuring they are contributing to the greater good. Furthermore, against the backdrop of a deepening climate crisis, the imperative to advance ESG goals has never been more urgent, pushing organizations to navigate a course aligned with sustainability and social responsibility.

In a landscape where regulations, cultural norms and best practices vary globally, regions find themselves at different stages in contemplating and implementing ESG principles. In the Asia-Pacific region, the ESG framework is evolving and has yet to reach the maturity observed in Europe. Despite this, there’s a notable increase in shareholder engagement as a proactive approach to risk management. Larger organizations in this region are aligning their net zero commitments with government strategies. Furthermore, the focus on diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) is gaining ground. Organizations increasingly acknowledge the profound impact DE&I has on overall business and talent strategies, shaping their talent pipelines around these fundamental principles.

Great Strides in Aviation
Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) has made great strides in recent years toward realizing its ESG ambitions amid the deepening climate crisis. The airport’s achievements in this space have contributed to its remarkable resilience in the face of extreme weather events in recent years. In particular, Airport Authority Hong Kong (AAHK), the statutory body that oversees HKIA, works closely with the airport community—including organizations such as the Hong Kong Observatory—to strengthen its ability to respond to such weather disruptions.

Beyond environmental concerns, HKIA is also focused on addressing social issues through various initiatives. For instance, it established the Hong Kong International Aviation Academy to offer people from all walks of life an opportunity to work in the aviation sector and provides training programs to upskill its staff, thereby building a sustainable talent pipeline for the industry. In terms of corporate governance, even though AAHK may not be a listed company, it prioritizes transparency and accountability, regularly disclosing information in compliance with the Corporate Governance Code issued by the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, as far as it is applicable.

Sustainability and Impact Investing

Within the financial services sector, investors are increasingly in pursuit of solutions that yield both financial returns and positive impacts with the rise of social and environmental challenges. UBS, one of the world’s largest managers of private and institutional wealth, is partnering with its clients to facilitate the mobilization of their capital toward a more sustainable world. The bank places a strong emphasis on the huge potential for strategic sustainable and impact investments across the APAC region.

The way UBS sets about doing this is through a multi-strand approach that integrates sustainability across its clients’ investment, corporate and philanthropic a host of green and climate tech innovations set to revolutionize the opportunities on offer to investors who want to bolster their sustainable portfolios. Among them are new renewable energy management solutions and low-carbon manufacturing materials, which are going to have particular applications within Asia and open up whole new impact investment fronts across the region, the bank says.

Leveraging Technology to Meet Net Zero Goals

In the dynamic landscape of global energy, Malaysia’s PETRONAS is harnessing cutting edge technologies to help the business accomplish its sustainability initiatives at scale. By strategically increasing its technology investment by 60% from 2021, PETRONAS has launched numerous projects, generating substantial value exceeding RM10 billion (US$2.1 billion). The company also continues to leverage its diverse arsenal of technological solutions to drive continuous value creation, enhance customer experiences and amplify purposeful impact.

“Our journey, though ambitious, is navigated with a keen awareness of global complexities. The history of our industry is marked by ever-evolving challenges and volatilities that demand adaptability and strategic agility. We also recognize that technology can address these challenges as well as be a force for good that can drive systemic change, all of which will support PETRONAS’ Net Zero Carbon Emissions 2050 Pathway,” says Aadrin Azly, Vice President for PETRONAS Group Technology & Commercialisation.

Paving the Way Toward Decarbonization

Meanwhile, decarbonization software leader Univers is tackling climate issues, particularly in the built environment, through its innovative solutions. The global technology firm helps enterprises, governments and cities to optimize energy systems and reduce carbon emissions with accurate, reliable and actionable decarbonization data through its comprehensive decarbonization software.

Univers also fosters strategic partnerships with financial institutions, offering companies access to green financing. This critical support empowers businesses to adopt sustainable practices and technologies more feasibly. “These strategic partnerships alleviate the financial challenges of adopting greener practices, accelerating businesses’ sustainable transformation,” says Michael Ding, Global Executive Director of Univers.

As industries evolve and global challenges persist, it’s clear that the journey toward a greener, more inclusive and sustainable world requires a collaborative endeavor.

The Philippines: A Nation Rising

The Philippines stands as one of the fastest-growing economies in Southeast Asia, showcasing a resilient recovery in the aftermath of the pandemic. The country achieved a remarkable gross domestic product (GDP) growth rate of 7.6% in 2022, the fastest growth rate in over four decades. While the first half of 2023 saw some moderation with a GDP of 5.3%, the economy is poised for a renewed upswing with an expected growth rate of up to 6% next year, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, the central bank of the Philippines, has acted decisively in raising interest rates in the face of inflationary pressures, which has helped maintain economic stability. Against this backdrop, IMF anticipates faster economic growth in the upcoming year, driven by increased government spending. Notably, service exports are expected to perform well, particularly in the electronics sector, further fueling economic expansion.

Since the post-pandemic reopening of the economy, trade activities and volume have exhibited steady growth, contributing to the Philippines’ economic recovery. Manila-based International Container Terminal Services, Inc. (ICTSI) had a role in this recovery as a major player in the global value chain, providing value-added services and facilitating the free flow of goods between nations and regions.

The global port operator is investing PHP15 billion (US$263 million) to expand the Manila International Container Terminal (MICT). This expansion project will increase the terminal’s cargo handling capacity, enabling it to accommodate larger container ships and the associated increase in cargo volume. Upon completion, the MICT is expected to have an annual capacity of 3.5 million TEU, solidifying its position as the largest international gateway in the Philippines.

Investment Opportunities
The Philippines remains an attractive destination for investment, offering a combination of incentives, tax breaks and well-established legal frameworks designed to protect the interests of foreign investors. President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. emphasizes that the Philippines is “a nation on the rise, ready to collaborate with partners who see the potential we hold.”

For instance, the recent collaboration between the Philippines’ Federal Land, Inc. and Japan’s Nomura Real Estate Development Co., Ltd. is set to redefine real estate standards, creating a dynamic new player on the global real estate scene. The synergistic alliance, dubbed Federal Land NRE Global Inc. (FNG), takes advantage of Federal Land’s legacy of innovation and ingenuity enhanced by Nomura’s celebrated history of excellence and attention to detail.

Banking on a considerable capital investment of approximately PHP48 billion (US$844 million), FNG is poised to launch its first two pioneering projects, further solidifying this alliance’s significance on the international stage. These ambitious developments are expected to lead to substantial yet sustainable economic opportunities. With the goal of generating around 6,000 jobs within its initial operational years, FNG will be contributing to the country’s growth momentum in a major way.

Another real estate player capitalizing on the heightened demand for both residential and commercial properties is Vista Land & Lifescapes, Inc., one of the leading integrated property developers in the Philippines. The company has launched a portfolio of projects throughout the country valued at PHP24.3 billion (US$427 million), more than the previous year.

Vista Land reports a consistent and robust demand for its residential developments, encompassing both horizontal and vertical segments. Notably, this demand comes from overseas Filipino buyers, constituting about 60% of the company’s total sales. Its most ambitious project to date is Villar City, a sprawling 3,500-hectare mixed-use development that spans 15 cities and towns in Metro Manila and Cavite.

Tech Advancements
Meanwhile, the country’s tech ecosystem is thriving, characterized by a vibrant startup culture and advancements in e-commerce, fintech and digital services.

The Philippines’ leading telco, Globe, has trans formed from a traditional telecommunications entity into a technology powerhouse, unveiling a broad range of innovative digital solutions aimed at elevating the quality of life for Filipinos. For instance, Globe has rolled out game-changing digital solutions such as finance app GCash, which has transformed the way Filipinos make financial transactions, from payments and savings to loans and investing.

The company is also revolutionizing healthcare with its healthtech offering, KonsultaMD. This digital health superapp allows patients to consult with a vast network of 1,000 medical professionals across 40 specializations, offering roundthe-clock access to doctor consultations, medicine delivery, at-home diagnostics and nursing care.

Sustainable Energy Future
The Philippines is also aggressively pursuing the expansion of renewable energy, aiming to achieve a 35% share in the power mix by 2030, and consequently up to 50% by 2040. To achieve these targets, the government has opened the doors to 100% foreign ownership of renewable energy projects in the country, spanning exploration, development and the utilization of solar, wind, hydro and ocean energy sources.

This forward-looking approach sets the stage for a sustainable and eco-friendly energy future, contributing to the nation’s growth and environmental well-being.

Supporting The Aspirations Of Wealthy Indians Globally

HSBC is bolstering its capabilities in Singapore to serve the growing community of global Indians.

India’s remarkable economic growth and rising affluence have positioned it as one of the world’s most compelling wealth markets, with the number of ultra-high net worth (UHNW) individuals in the country—those with more than US$30 million to invest— predicted to increase by 58% by 2027. Reflecting the country’s economic dynamism, India surpassed the U.K. as the world’s fifth largest economy in 2022, and is expected to overtake Japan and Germany by 2027-28.

This rapid accumulation of wealth has fuelled demand among the country’s affluent for sophisticated financial solutions to meet their increasingly diverse and complex needs. For instance, many are diversifying away from traditional savings to a broad range of high return investment products, and also seeking protection and health-related solutions.

This need for comprehensive wealth services is shared by the 32 million nonresident Indians living abroad in regions such as the Middle East, the U.S. and the U.K. As one of the world’s largest migrant populations, the Indian diaspora has expanded its affluence and influence around the globe. Interestingly, HSBC Global Research has found that these “global Indians” are keen to invest in their resident markets as well as back in India.

A Trusted Partner at Home and Abroad

With the launch of HSBC’s Global Private Banking business in India, the bank will be able to leverage its deep local knowledge, international network and breadth of expertise to meet both the private wealth and business needs of the country’s UHNW professionals and entrepreneurs, as well as their families.

Many consumers recognise HSBC as a trusted financial partner in India, where it has been present for 170 years offering a full range of financial services for individuals, companies and institutions. The addition of the Global Private Banking business further reinforces HSBC’s commitment to invest and grow its business in the country, as it strives to become the leading international wealth manager in Asia.

Beyond private banking, HSBC Group has been strengthening its capabilities in India in other areas. These include the formation of HSBC Mutual Fund following the acquisition of L&T Investment Management Limited in 2022, and enhancements to its digital, payments, lending and international banking services, and the provision of life insurance services through its joint venture, Canara HSBC Life Insurance Company.

“Our research suggests that India is the investment destination of the decade and beyond. Our Indian clients are financially knowledgeable and comfortable with technology. Those who have relocated from India exhibit a global perspective and are remarkably mobile. Our team of private bankers are equipped with deep technical expertise required to meet the growing financial needs of this sophisticated group,” says Sandeep Batra, Head of Wealth and Personal Banking, HSBC India.

Annabel Spring, CEO,
HSBC Global Private Banking and Wealth
Sandeep Batra, Head of
Wealth and Personal Banking, HSBC India

“With the new Global Private Banking business, HSBC can now bring a broad range of tailored solutions and bespoke services alongside the bank’s leading wholesale banking capabilities to our clients in India. Alongside our strong private banking network across every major global wealth centre, including Singapore, the U.K. and the UAE, we can also leverage our international connectivity to reach the global Indian diaspora so that we are where they are,” says Annabel Spring, CEO, Global Private Banking and Wealth, HSBC.

In particular, the Global Private Banking business offers a comprehensive suite of solutions, from bespoke lending and portfolio management services to investment products and wealth solutions.

With a presence in 62 countries and territories, HSBC Group also offers its Indian private banking clients access to international banking, investments and financing solutions across the group, enabling them to capitalise on global opportunities. These services are collectively delivered through a team of dedicated relationship managers, investment counsellors, and product specialists supporting wealth planning for individuals and family offices.

Furthermore, Global Private Banking clients can seamlessly access relevant HSBC Group’s solutions internationally.

Scaling Up Capabilities in Asia

Looking ahead, HSBC Global Private Banking will continue to invest in its people, capabilities and network in India and the rest of Asia. As wealth creation in the region outpaces the rest of the world, the bank will work towards bringing its investment expertise and client service capabilities closer to its clients.

HSBC Global Private Banking’s comprehensive digital services will further enhance the customer experience, providing clients with various convenient platforms to interact with their wealth managers. HSBC’s investments in enhancing its digital capabilities have been widely recognised by the industry. The bank was recently honoured with several awards in this space, including an award for Customer Facing Digital Capabilities (South-East Asia) at the WealthBriefingAsia Awards 2023.

HSBC is also bolstering its capabilities in the financial hub of Singapore to more effectively meet the needs of non-resident Indians in the region. This underscores the bank’s commitment to serve the growing community of global Indians by leveraging Singapore’s position as a prominent international wealth centre.

Over the years, the historical ties and geographical proximity between Singapore and India have fostered strong financial links between the two countries. Indeed, nearly nine out of 10 global Indians have invested in Singapore, according to HSBC. As one of the world’s largest migrant populations, members of the Indian diaspora are not only keen to invest in India but also in their respective resident markets. Due to the country’s stable government, strong rule of law and government support for the financial sector, many have started gravitating towards Singapore in recent years.

The launch of HSBC Global Private Banking in India—following on the heels of similar launches in Thailand in 2021, as well as in Mexico, UAE, and Chengdu, Hangzhou and Shenzhen in mainland China in 2022—is just the latest effort by the bank to better support the wealth journeys of UHNW individuals and families in the world’s fastest-growing wealth centres, and it will be far from the last.

Says Annabel Spring: “India is key to our global growth strategy to become the leading private bank for Asian, international and HSBCconnected clients. With our global footprint and wide range of bespoke services, we are now, more than ever, strongly positioned to meet the increasingly complex needs of wealthy Indians at home and abroad, helping them to achieve their financial, business and family goals for generations to come.”


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The information contained in this article has not been reviewed in the light of your individual circumstances and is for information purposes only. It does not purport to provide legal, taxation or other advice and should not be taken as such. No client or other reader should act or refrain from acting on the basis of the content of this article without seeking specific professional advice. Issued by The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited.