With the coronavirus crisis expanding globally, Adrian Cheng, chief executive officer of Hong Kong New World Development, executive director of jewelry company Chow Tai Fook and founder of K11 Group and C Ventures, is extending his support to Europe. The entrepreneur, who in January donated $1.2 million to an anti-epidemic fund and recently set up in Hong Kong production of face masks, said Tuesday he will source and donate 1.5 million medical face masks to be distributed across France, Italy and the U.K. through their respective embassies in Hong Kong.
Cheng discussed how he reacted to the COVID-19 outbreak in Asia and how it’s important to stay calm, positive and creative to overcome crisis.
WWD: How did you personally face the emergency?
Adrian Cheng: As a business leader, the safety and well-being of our staff and community is always my priority. In light of recent events, for example, we have taken the lead role globally in creating a 50 million renminbi [$7.1 million] fund to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus and distributing more than three million surgical masks in Hong Kong and China. And now, I have just announced the launch of a campaign, #LoveWithoutBorders, and donated 1.5 million surgical masks to France, Italy and the United Kingdom. I hope that the masks’ donation will give the needed protection to the local communities in France, Italy and the United Kingdom, as the global community continues to work together to “flatten the curve” to reduce the number of cases in the weeks ahead.
WWD: How did you manage to keep your staff motivated during the lockdown?
A.C.: At this very moment, I think it is more important than ever for us to keep calm, stay positive and work together to build a collaborative culture that will convene like-minded change makers to drive social progress and create a win-win situation for corporations and society. Since January when the coronavirus began to hit Asia, I have been working tirelessly with my staff to do everything we can to help the society combat the virus. On top of all the donations as I mentioned, our goal was to set up local mask production lines to produce enough masks in our fight against the new coronavirus. In partnership with Master Dynamic, a leading Hong Kong material analysis and nanotechnology company, my team and I are endeavoring to apply the patented NanoDiamonds Technology to develop the next generation of affordable and highly effective surgical masks that can suppress and even kill bacteria and viruses for global distribution. [Research and development] and production are targeted to be completed in the last quarter of 2020. I believe that with our collective talent, creativity and resilience, we can unlock opportunities together and win the battle against the COVID-19, bringing long-term positive change to the society.
WWD: What’s your perspective on how to manage through of all this?
A.C.: It’s not an easy battle, but together we can win. It has always been my belief. At first, the emergency really made me realize how challenging it has been for everyone to source masks locally. Right after I announced the donation of 10 million Hong Kong dollars [$1.3 million] in protective gear to local communities, our team reached out to suppliers worldwide in search of high-quality masks. The fluctuation in prices and unreliability of supply prompted me to make the decision to start a local production line right here in Hong Kong. What I was thinking was that we have no shortage of scientific research capabilities, talent and resources in Hong Kong, and we are absolutely equipped to produce high-quality masks locally to tackle immediate and long-term needs. That’s why I decided to install local production lines to ensure continuous production of masks for our community in the future.
WWD: What do you think brands should be doing to face this moment and react when the health crisis will be over?
A.C.: International cooperation is essential if we are to beat this pandemic effectively. With the #LoveWithoutBorders campaign, I hope that everyone will join us during this difficult time to lend a helping hand. This year, I was proud to announce that we are pioneering in Hong Kong by being the first in the industry to incorporate the philosophy of CSV (Creating Shared Value) into the company’s business ethos and mission. Our CSV vision is based on three main pillars: empowering culture and creativity, supporting social innovations and creating a sustainable way of living. As a group, we hope that with this new direction by connecting business success with social progress, we can continue to come up with better solutions to address different social issues at critical times. This is also aligned with our group’s goal to provide an ecosystem of services and infrastructure to ensure the well-being of our community.