Case Studies of Australian Businesses in China
Woodhead International, a multinational Australian design consulting firm, operates throughout Asia, including mainland China, providing architectural, interior and urban design, facilities planning and graphic design services. In 1991, Woodhead International met with a Chinese developer, securing a hospital project in Guangdong province and providing master plans for several large commercial Shenzhen developments. After first focusing on larger public buildings including airports, hotels, hospitals and convention centres, the company tapped strong residential construction demand which now makes up about half its Chinese business. China now accounts for about 15 per cent of total company revenues and Woodhead currently is establishing a full time office in China to capitalise on its market presence. Its recent major projects include the Qingdao Liuting Airport terminal, the Shandong Tower Hotel and Convention Centre, the Shanxi International Trade Centre Hotel and the Intercontinental Hotel in Chongqing.
Woodhead believes the 'fly-in, fly-out' approach many foreign firms adopt in China undermines trust and relationships needed to succeed. Negotiating requires patience and persistence, particularly with potential partners or clients. Woodhead finds using local architects is vital to staying competitive in the market. Ongoing challenges include securing overdue payments, building a well researched and understood client base and delays in remitting foreign exchange.
Source: Woodhead International, 2002.
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