Demand for procurement of some local goods and services has declined during the epidemic, and suppliers – including local small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) – are adjusting their business strategies to seek out new opportunities.
On Kei Frozen Meat Food Limited is among the local SMEs that have adopted a flexible approach. Founded in 2016, On Kei sells frozen meats and frozen seafood, as well as grains and oil. After three years of operation, On Kei decided to set up its own food processing plant in 2019, supplying products to hotels and restaurants.
In 2019, On Kei also participated in Sands China’s Local SME Supplier Open Day and the Sands Procurement Academy.
“After the training course, members from Sands China’s procurement team took the initiative to approach us and inquire about our products, facilities and logistics service. That’s how we built up cooperation with them. We deeply feel that Sands China attaches great importance to working with local small, medium and micro enterprises,” said Mr. Ivan Ao Ieong, who oversees On Kei.
Sands China’s helping hand
Initiatives like the Open Day and the Procurement Academy are part of Sands China’s Local Small, Medium and Micro Suppliers Support Programme and its F.I.T. initiative (Financial Support, Invitational Matching, and Training and Development) for local SME suppliers.
The Sands Procurement Academy helps suppliers gain experience and the capacity to work with large-scale international corporations like Sands China. The academy specifically targets four categories of local SME suppliers: SMEs, micro-enterprises, Macau young entrepreneurs, and “Made-in-Macau” enterprises. The training program has received much positive feedback from its graduates.
Like most young entrepreneurs, Mr. Ao Ieong has relatively little business experience.
“There would be a breaking-in period at the beginning of our cooperation, for sure,” admitted Mok Wai Keong, a senior officer at Sands China’s procurement and supply chain department.
At the beginning of their engagement, On Kei could not yet meet Sands China’s standards in terms of meat cutting. But the young entrepreneur actively communicated with Sands and improved quickly. “Now we are working together smoothly,” Mok said.
On Kei’s advantages are also obvious, according to Sands China. Chan Yuk Ming, director of Procurement and Supply Chain for Sands China Ltd., pointed out that the head of On Kei is young and it is easy for him to master the e-process and on-line systems required by Sands. Their product price range is also reasonable. Besides, On Kei has its own processing plant, logistics team and retail store, which means its supply chain has been less affected by the pandemic, even while hotels and restaurants have reduced their orders.
Covid-19 was memorable
Both Sands China and On Kei agreed that the spread of Covid-19 was the most unforgettable experience since their cooperation.
“As a result of the pandemic, some restaurants we had previously worked with unfortunately closed down. Our company’s profits have therefore declined. Thanks to orders from Sands China, we’ve luckily been supported and have maintained our business during this difficult time,” Ivan said.
Mok from Sands shared Ivan’s feelings, saying, “The epidemic broke out soon after we began cooperation with On Kei. They responded quickly and collaborated with us closely. We are pleased with their service.”
On Kei’s business has increased by 30% since it became one of Sands China’s suppliers. The company has also scaled up its manpower in food processing, administration and logistics. The number of its employees has doubled from seven to 14.
On Kei was also invited to join the Sands Shopping Carnival held in August this year. The carnival provided a free business platform for local SMEs and Sands retailers amid the pandemic period, and gave On Kei the opportunity to demonstrate its products and communicate with more clients.
On Kei’s outlook
In the future, the local SME aims to provide more high-quality ingredients to resorts. Additionally, On Kei’s second retail store, to be located in Seac Pai Van, is on schedule to open for business.
“We are planning to introduce products from Portuguese-speaking countries, such as Iberian ham. We also hope to introduce environmentally friendly seafood products from Tanzania to cater to the trend of healthy and green ingredients,” Ivan explained.
As Sands China has always attached great importance to food hygiene and safety standards, they recommended that SMEs obtain corresponding international certifications to ensure quality, and thus enhance their competitiveness.
Sands China has been committed to supporting local enterprises, whom it views as its strategic partners. Both Mok and Chan advise local SMEs to seek cooperation and stay in touch with resorts and gaming operators. “Small and medium-sized enterprises can take the initiative to introduce their new products to Sands China’s procurement team. Also, if they have qualified services or products, we welcome them to provide a quotation to us at any time,” they said.