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International firms switch focus to premium businesses in China

international companies in China, business in China

A slowdown in China is forcing multinational companies to treat the world's second-biggest economy more like a developed market, turning away from a headlong dash for growth to focus on premium businesses, or improving productivity by investing in staff.

中国经济放缓正迫使跨国企业把中国经济看成更像是一个发达市场,不再为了增长而猛冲,反而专注于优质业务,或藉由投资员工来改善生产力。

As the main driver of global growth for much of the past decade, China has been a godsend to big international firms looking to boost profits as economies elsewhere struggled.

过去10年,中国多数时候是全球经济增长的主要推动力,好似上天送给大型国际公司的礼物。这些公司因别处经济困顿而需要增加收益。

Now, though, Beijing is attempting to rebalance its economy to a more sustainable rate of expansion dubbed the "new normal", and with growth at its slowest in a generation, the current quarter has seen a slew of companies citing China as a reason for underwhelming earnings.

如今中国正试图重新平衡经济,朝着"新常态"发展。由于中国经济增长进入一代人以来的低谷时期,本季度已有不少企业指称中国是其收入黯淡的原因。

"We've entered the new phase, a new normal with slower growth, and that changes the business dynamic, and it changes the outlook," said John Lawler, Ford China CEO, at a recent conference for U.S. businesses in Shanghai.

福特汽车中国公司首席执行官罗礼祥在最近于上海举行的业务会议上说:"我们已进入新阶段,较低增长的新常态,这改变了业务动能,并改变了展望。"

In recent weeks, weakness in Chinese demand has been blamed for soft sales and trimmed forecasts from companies ranging from luxury fashion retailer Burberry and KFC owner Yum Brands to U.S. computer hardware and consulting firm IBM and Japanese robot maker Yaskawa Electric Corp.

最近几周,从奢侈品零售商博柏利到百胜集团、美国国际商用机器公司及日本机器人生产商安川电机等公司,纷纷把销售疲软和预期下调的矛头指向中国需求疲软。

Economic data released in October also showed export growth slowing sharply in Japan, while South Korean exports fell – both blamed on the slowdown in their giant neighbour.

10月公布的经济数据还显示,日本出口增长大幅放缓,韩国出口下滑,而且也被归咎于中国经济放缓。

Companies in sectors such as construction and mining have felt the biggest pinch. Heavy equipment maker Caterpillar has outlined plans to slash capital spending and cut about 10,000 jobs, while industrial conglomerate United Technologies Corp said its business in China could drop as much as 15 percent next year.

建筑业和采矿业等领域的企业受创最重。重型设备制造商卡特彼勒计划削减资本支出并裁撤约1万个岗位。工业企业巨头美国联合技术公司则表示,其在中国的业务明年将下滑多达15%。

And the days of double-digit growth that had foreign companies scrambling to enter China in the first decade of the millennium may not be coming back. As China tries to steer the economy away from the export and investment-led growth model that fuelled China's rise, companies are having to re-evaluate their strategy.

在新世纪的第一个十年,中国经济保持了两位数增速,吸引外资企业蜂拥进入中国市场,那个时代可能一去不复返了。随着中国政府努力引导经济脱离出口和投资引领的增长模式,各个企业必须重新评估自己的战略。

In response, some firms are investing more in development to cater to Chinese consumers' growing sophistication.

一些企业的反应是,增加研发投资,以迎合中国消费者日趋复杂的需求。

"We have reformulated our products, we have invested in innovation and renovation very much like we do in Europe," Nestle Chief Executive Paul Bulcke told reporters after the world's biggest packaged food firm warned in mid-October it would miss its long-term growth target this year.

"我们已重新规划产品,并在创新和改造方面投入了很多,就像在欧洲市场那样。"全球最大包装食品公司——雀巢的首席执行官保罗·比尔克对记者说。此前,该公司曾在10月中旬警告,今年恐无法达到其长期增长目标。

Healthcare is one promising area to target as the Chinese consumer grows older, richer and better informed.

随着中国消费人群年龄、财富和见识的增加,医疗保健行业将成为一个充满潜力的领域。

"The underlying fundamentals haven't changed," General Electric Co. Chief Financial Officer Jeff Bornstein said in October of GE's healthcare technology business. "There is still 1.5 billion people. They're still building hospitals. The private market in China has grown 15 percent to 20 percent a quarter."

通用电气首席财务官杰夫·伯恩斯坦在10月提到公司旗下医疗保健科技业务时称:"基本面没有改变。中国仍有15亿人口。他们仍在建造医院。中国民间市场以每季度15%~20%的速度增长。"

Drugmaker Roche, which bucked the trend by increasing third-quarter sales in China, said the market for its mainstay cancer drugs was growing strongly, offsetting struggling sales for older products facing generic competition.

瑞士罗氏公司第三季度在中国的销售逆势增长。它表示,作为公司支柱的癌症药物市场增长强劲,抵销了老旧药品面临非专利药竞争而出现的销量下滑。

"What we're really seeing is our strategic products that are just beginning to really find their way to patients in China are growing very well, double-digit growth overall," said Dan O'Day, Roche's pharmaceuticals chief.

该公司负责药物的主管丹·奥戴称:"我们所见的真实情况是,我们公司那些刚开始接触到中国患者的战略产品成长得非常良好,总体来说呈两位数增长。"

Flatlining car sales have prompted global car makers such as BMW to intensify training programmes, teaching dealers who have previously derived the bulk of their income from selling new cars how to maximise revenue from auto financing, repairs and insurance.

汽车销量平平已促使宝马等全球汽车生产商加强培训计划,训练经销商如何从汽车金融、修理及保险中使收益最大化。此前这些经销商的多数收益来自新车销售。

Services have been one of the few recent economic bright spots, with a private sector survey on Wednesday showing the fastest pace of expansion in three months.

服务业是近期少有的经济亮点之一,周三公布的民间调查显示,10月中国服务业以三个月来的最快速度扩张。

ABB's Spiesshofer said the company had opened a new service centre to supply spare parts, maintenance and consulting services for oil and gas, chemical, utility, metals, transport and infrastructure sectors.

史毕福称,公司已新开一家服务中心,专供零配件及维护,并提供油气、化学、公用事业、金属、运输及基建行业的咨询服务。

"Historically, customers have not yet taken out the service offering as strongly," he said. "We are pushing that very hard."

他说:"站在历史的角度看,客户并未严重脱离服务业,我们正努力推动服务。"

2016-06-23

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