From a manager of a Western factory in Guangdong province:
“We’re not looking at the wonderful order sizes that you might have seen a year ago or more, but I think we are seeing stability, I think we do have demand. As a manufacturer I’m not biting my nails about what’s going to come down off the pike.”
A Hong Kong-based PR executive who focuses strongly on China:
“Actually, we’re still pretty busy. While companies are cutting their budgets for the US and Europe, their China budgets are staying the same, or perhaps even increasing a little. Companies want to emphasize to their shareholders that they are strong in the Asian market and not overly dependent on the US and Europe.”
Hugh Cushing, CEO of Toll Global Forwarding:
“January and February have been very hard and it will be interesting to see what happens in March in terms of when things are likely to stabilize. Some smart money is on the end of the year, but I am not so sure. It is a very difficult time to be a small freight forwarder and perhaps some of the mid-size forwarders have it even worse. They have been expanding and now they have to batten down the hatches – some just don’t have the scale to see them through. The large forwarders will come out of this better. All the major guys have got their eyes open at the moment, looking for [acquisition] opportunities.
“About 50% of our business is fast-moving consumer goods and we have a lot of grocery retail clients. People say that’s a recession-proof business – people may no longer eat Heinz baked beans but they are still eating baked beans, so some tins need moving.”