Dr. Brian Li
Organisation: GP Industries Limited
Position in the organisation: Managing Director
Biography note: Dr. Li is the Managing Director of the Singapore-listed GP Industries Limited. GP Industries is an international manufacturing and marketing group in the acoustics, electronics and batteries industries. The GP Industries Group controls two of the world-renowned premium acoustics brands, “KEF” and “Celestion”. GP Industries is also the largest shareholder of GP Batteries Limited, one of the World’s leading manufacturers in consumer batteries. Dr. Li worked in the electronic engineering and manufacturing industry in Hong Kong, China and internationally for more than 30 years.
Dr. Li is the vice chairman of The Hong Kong Electronic Industries Association. He also serves as a member of the Hong Kong Electronics Industry Council of the Federation of Hong Kong Industries and the Electronics/Electrical Appliances Industries Advisory Committee of the Hong Kong Trade Development Council. He is a member of the Advisory Committee for the Department of Electronic Engineering and the Co-operative Education Centre of the City University of Hong Kong, the Industrial Advisory Committee in the Department of Industrial Engineering and Logistics Management of The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology and the Electronic and Information Engineering Programme Board of the Hong Kong Institute of Vocational Education.
Dr. Li holds a Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of British Columbia, Canada, a Master’s degree in Global Business with Dean’s Honour from The Chinese University of Hong Kong and a Doctor of Business Administration degree from the City University of Hong Kong.
Plenary Session P5 – “Transformation of a Consumer Electronic Business in Response to Global Competition”
Consumer electronic business can be considered as one of industry sectors that has been most impacted by globalization. In the 1980’s, Hong Kong electronic manufacturers leveraged on the low cost base in China and substantially grew their businesses several fold within a few years and contributed to China’s development into one of key producers of electronics products for the World. In recent years, the Chinese government started to develop and enforce compliance of labor laws and environmental regulations. Whilst visible improvement in working condition and environmental protection has been made, rapidly escalating costs forced companies to make drastic transformation in order to sustain domestic and foreign competition. Despite their first mover advantage, most Hong Kong consumer electronic manufacturers remained in the contract manufacturing business without changing their business models. In the 1990’s, local and international competitors became established in China. Most Hong Kong manufacturers were then pushed into severe business challenges caused by saturating markets and razor thin margins. Only a small handful of Hong Kong consumer electronic manufacturers evolved to move up the value chain and developed their own global brands and their own global sales network.
This presentation is based on a case study conducted by the presenter which analyzed the development of one of the few Hong Kong electronics manufacturers, GP Electronics (HK) Limited, which started as a small contract manufacturer in 1978 and grew to a global company with its own brands, its own products and its own sales network. GPE’s global expansion started in 1992 with its acquisition of two premium UK loudspeaker brands, KEF and Celestion, and their subsequent integration into GPE’s core businesses. After the acquisitions, GPE set up concurrent technology and product development centers in the UK, Hong Kong and China, worked with Universities to access latest technologies, established product manufacturing in the UK, Europe and China, established a dedicated component and technology sourcing center, adopted Japanese manufacturing best practices and set up sales offices in key global markets. The implementation of these strategies transformed the company from a local subcontractor to a global supplier of premium branded products with significant share in the market segments it operates in and won the company international prizes and awards.
Using a theoretical lens based on western economic and business theories on firm globalization, the inquiry studied the effectiveness of the acquisition and growth strategies that the company adopted. The inquiry also identified a number of important contributors vital for the global expansion of electronic manufacturers from developing countries, such as those from Hong Kong, if they should contemplate business globalization as development strategy. Using the same theoretical lens, this presentation further analyzed how much the competitive landscape in China changed in the last few years and attempted to identify the key factors that will contribute to the success of Hong Kong’s electronic manufacturers in future.