【英语中国】中国“饮料大王”的雄心

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所属分类:双语中国

2011-3-8 00:11

小艾摘要: Zong Qinghou certainly does not look like the richest man in China.The chairman of China’s powerful Wahaha soft drinks group is in Beijing this week to attend a meeting of the National People’s Cong ...
Zong Qinghou certainly does not look like the richest man in China.

The chairman of China’s powerful Wahaha soft drinks group is in Beijing this week to attend a meeting of the National People’s Congress, the country’s parliament.

Dressed in a humble blue suit and chain smoking cigarettes that, he proudly points out, cost only Rmb12 ($1.82) per pack, he comes across as a man of the people – the people who buy his soft drinks.

Mr Zong, 66, is known as the “drinks king” of China: but he wants to be much more. In a wide-ranging two-hour press conference, he sketched out plans to diversify into areas from shopping mall development to farming and mining in China; said he is looking for more overseas partnerships to source raw materials abroad; and talked about an overseas technology partnership to improve the energy footprint of his factories.

Overseas, he is best known for waging a legal battle against Danone, the French food group. He won some legal rulings in their long-running trademark and contract dispute, and lost others; but most lawyers and industry analysts agree that he outsmarted Danone, with whom he had a 13-year joint venture which developed many of China’s top drinks brands.

“Danone made a mistake. They trusted their local partner too much – and he used it to his advantage,” says Shaun Rein of China Market Research in Shanghai.

Mr Zong reflected philosophically on that joint venture, telling the FT that the main lesson of the dispute for foreign companies investing in China is that such partnerships should be struck on the basis of “equality and mutual benefit”: “Chinese people are very tolerant, but we refuse to be bullied”.

Danone had accused Mr Zong of setting up copycat operations outside its joint venture, to sell competing products under the Wahaha trademark, which he denied. The two sides eventually settled out of court late in 2009.

Now Mr Zong is ready to move on: “It is time to expand both upstream and downstream,” he said, though he gave few details. His goal, he said, is to become one of the world’s “strongest” 500 companies within five years.

Speaking in the heavy accent of his native Zhejiang province, cradle to some of China’s richest entrepreneurs, he mused on the nature of wealth in China, the unique challenges of managing a Chinese workforce (“we can’t just import foreign management styles into China, we need a whole new way of managing”), and the rhythms of product development in one of the world’s most demanding consumer markets. Asked what dreams he had for his life, he said that apart from career success, he had “none” – a not unusual position for Chinese entrepreneurs of his generation, who often display a formidable work ethic. But now he says it is time for others within the company – which employs 30,000 people, half of whom have company shares – to start taking over his role of “innovator-in-chief”. Consultants routinely cite Wahaha as one of the most innovative companies, local or foreign, operating in China.

Ted Hurley, associate director FCMG at Nielsen in Shanghai, says: “Wahaha is especially famous for innovation. It makes lots of new things and sure, some fail. “But it moves quickly and is adaptable.”

宗庆后确实看上去不像中国首富。

这位中国强大的软饮料集团娃哈哈(Wahaha)的董事长,本周正在北京出席全国人大会议。

身着一套廉价的蓝色西装、不停地抽着烟——他得意地指出,每包售价仅12元人民币(合1.82美元)——宗庆后给人的印象是:他是一个普通人,是购买其软饮料的老百姓中的一员。

现年66岁的宗庆后被称作中国的“饮料大王”:但他还想更上层楼。在为时两小时的大型记者招待会上,宗庆后描绘了实现业务多元化的蓝图,打算进军国内从购物中心开发到农业再到采矿业等领域;表示自己正在物色更多的海外合作伙伴关系,以便从国外采购原材料;谈到要在海外建立技术合作关系,以改善旗下工厂的能源足迹。

在海外,宗庆后最出名的是发动了与法国食品集团达能(Danone)的法律战。在双方旷日持久的商标与合同纠纷中,宗庆后有胜有败。但大部分律师与业内分析师一致认为,宗庆后比达能更智胜一筹。他与达能的合资企业存在了13年,开发了中国许多顶级的饮料品牌。

上海中国市场研究集团(China Market Research)的雷小山(Shaun Rein)表示:“达能犯了一个错误。他们太过于信任本土合作伙伴——而宗庆后则利用了这一点。”

宗庆后对此次合资进行了冷静的反思。他告诉英国《金融时报》,这次纠纷对在华投资的外国公司的一个主要教训是,此类合作关系应建立在“平等互利”的基础上:“中国人非常能容忍,但我们不能被别人欺负。”

达能指责宗庆后在合资企业之外另设相关公司,销售使用娃哈哈商标的竞争性产品。宗庆后对此予以了否认。双方最终于2009年末达成庭外和解。

如今,宗庆后已准备好继续前行:“现在是时候同时向上下游扩张了。”但他几乎没有透露细节。他表示,他的目标是在5年内跻身世界500强公司。

宗庆后操着浓重的浙江(中国一些最富有企业家的摇篮)乡音,若有所思地谈到中国财富的性质、管理中国员工面临的独有挑战(“我们单纯引进外国的管理风格,我们需要全新的管理方式”)、以及在全球最苛刻的消费者市场之一的产品开发节奏。当被问及他有什么人生梦想时,他表示,除了事业成功,别无所求——这种姿态在他这代中国企业家中并不罕见,他们常常展示出令人敬佩的职业道德。但他表示,现在是时候让公司里的其他人接手其“首席创新官”的角色了。娃哈哈有雇员3万人,其中半数拥有公司的股票。咨询顾问常称娃哈哈是在华运营的所有中外公司中最具创新力的公司之一。

上海尼尔森(Nielsen)快速消费品副董事特德?赫尔利(Ted Hurley)表示:“娃哈哈尤以创新闻名。它生产了许多新东西,当然有一些并未获得成功。但它动作迅速,适应力强。”

译者/何黎

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