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Interview with CEO Weber Lo
Because the COVID-19 pandemic was brought under control in mainland China, our Mainland portfolio posted respectable year-on-year growth in leasing revenue, led by a V-shaped rebound in luxury goods spending at our luxury-focused malls in Shanghai, Shenyang, Wuxi and Kunming from last April. This was followed by sustained growth throughout the rest of the year. Our lifestyle malls experienced a more gradual recovery. In Hong Kong, our properties provided rent relief to alleviate the pressure on our tenants, who faced operational pressure due to the recurring COVID-19 situation in the city.
When commenting on our annual results performance in 2020, Weber stressed on how impressed he had been to see Hang Lung employees working as one team to deliver on the Company‘s commitment to customer-centricity and its culture of caring about people amid the immense challenges brought by the COVID-19 outbreak. He says, “I’d like to express my gratitude to all colleagues for their hard work and dedication. This is invaluable, especially in such a challenging year.”
To help our employees focus on their work, the Company improved staff benefits at the peak of the pandemic. Founder’s Day Leave was introduced to commemorate the 60th anniversary of Hang Lung Group and the formalization of flexible work arrangements.
Our care for the community was evident amid the pandemic. We donated RMB 10 million to set up the Hang Lung Novel Coronavirus Relief Fund, which has supported measures to stem the spread of COVID-19 in mainland China and Hong Kong. RMB 6 million of the Fund was donated to Leishenshan Hospital in Wuhan, and the remainder has gone towards support for underprivileged groups in Hong Kong and mainland China. “We are proud that we gathered 1,000 employees to take part in the volunteering activities held concurrently across Hong Kong and nine mainland cities on the day we celebrated Hang Lung Group’s 60th anniversary. Over 4,500 underprivileged people were able to benefit from this huge act of generosity,” Weber says.
Despite the headwinds from the COVID-19 pandemic, Weber says that we have made great strides in building a unique Hang Lung branded experience over the past year. Our nationwide Customer Relationship Management (CRM) program, HOUSE 66, has been fully rolled out across all of our existing properties on the Mainland. “HOUSE 66, along with our capability to analyze members’ data, allows us to strengthen ties with customers and tenants, as well as boosts tenants’ sales.” A new CRM program will be launched in Hong Kong in March this year.
A range of customer events and projects created in collaboration with our brand partners yielded positive feedback in 2020.
Other major developments made in 2020 include the launch of Hang Lung’s first multi-functional workspace, named HANGOUT at Center 66 in Wuxi; Grand Hyatt was appointed to operate the Company’s new luxury hotel, named Grand Hyatt Kunming, at Spring City 66 in Kunming. And, towards the end of 2020, Hang Lung’s new office tower at Heartland 66 in Wuhan opened its doors.
The pandemic has accelerated the use of technology across the Company to help us stay connected and maintain our efficiency. Tools such as Microsoft Teams and BIM have helped us stay on schedule during project design work despite geographical constraints and restrictions on people’s movements. We have also taken the opportunity to further streamline work processes internally, and have received positive feedback on this from colleagues.
Weber sees this year as an important milestone for the Company as we cross the threshold of 60 years and mark the beginning of an exciting new chapter for the six decades that lie ahead. He sees many opportunities for growth this year, supported by the burgeoning luxury market on the Mainland, the opening of Heartland 66 mall by the end of the first quarter, and initiatives to enhance our trade mix in Hong Kong. As the Company expands and is able to have a bigger impact on the community, Weber seeks to further the development of sustainability across the Company this year. “2021 is a year filled with opportunities. I look forward to working with all employees to reach new heights for Hang Lung.”
A dazzling GATEWAY TO INSPIRATION grand opening party was held in November 2020 to celebrate the transformation of Grand Gateway 66 into a regional lifestyle center and a landmark luxury destination. The launch followed completion of a large-scale Asset Enhancement Initiative spanning more than three years
Spring City 66 celebrated its first anniversary in collaboration with over 100 brand partners along with delightful performances in September 2020
Plaza 66 joined hands with around 90 high-end brands to host a night of fun and luxury in the mall’s annual signature event, the Home to Luxury party. Guests were offered the opportunity to purchase exclusive products, first-release and limited-edition luxury goods, as well as to take part in invitation-only interactive games
The launch of HANGOUT will enrich the service offerings of our office towers
Our new office tower at Heartland 66 in Wuhan was ready for occupancy in November 2020
Opening in mid-2023, Grand Hyatt Kunming will feature 332 guestrooms and suites, state-of-the art amenities and extraordinary dining options