Businesses in China brave virus crisis to sustain growth

BEIJING-- After grappling with the spread of the novel coronavirus epidemic for months, companies in China have devised ways to turn the tide against the virus and keep their businesses afloat.

By April 15, about 84 percent of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), the most sensitive to weaker consumer demand, had resumed work, according to official data.

The resumption rate remained at a relatively low level for enterprises in sectors including catering, culture and entertainment as department stores and shopping malls were shuttered or open for reduced hours during the epidemic period.

However, businesses decided to look past the difficulties and brave the challenges.

As many people have been staying at home, L'Oreal China revamped its sales models using tools such as livestreaming to create conditions for consumers to shop at home, said Fabrice Megarbane, the company's president.

The cosmetics group is confident in China's consumer market, with hopes that it will rebound soon after the epidemic, according to Megarbane.

The company is currently preparing to attend the third China International Import Expo, he added.

Apart from foreign-invested companies, SMEs are eyeing a recovery.

"I saw the potential of the stay-at-home economy in the epidemic period," said Lu Xiaoliang, board chairman of Yuyao Lanshan Motor Enterprise Co. Ltd., expecting the demand for home appliances to warm up in the near future.

The company increased its staff by 15 percent after it reopened businesses in mid-February from the same period last year.

But rising costs of raw materials beset the motor producer. "Capital costs increased 10 percent after we resumed operations, which has strained our working capital," Lu said.

In late February, China's central bank added a 500-billion-yuan (about 70.71 billion U.S. dollars) re-lending and re-discount quota to help micro, small and medium-sized enterprises to get loans for reopening their businesses.

Backed by the central bank's policy support, China CITIC Bank offered Lanshan Motor a 1.8-million-yuan bill discount at an interest rate of 2.75 percent.

The firm is now planning to further step up investment into research and development this year with an aim to ride the waves of the stay-at-home economy.

With the virus continuing to jolt the global economy and taking a toll on global travel industries, China's tourism and aviation firms are joining hands in overcoming the epidemic shock.

"Since the outbreak, we have dealt with tens of millions of order cancellations with the total amount reaching 31 billion yuan," said Jane Jie Sun, CEO of China's largest online travel agency Group.

To revive tourism spending, the company has teamed up with hundreds of tourist sites and tens of thousands of brands to set up a 1-billion-yuan recovery fund for the industry.

Instead of fighting our own private battles, the entire industrial chain is countering the impact together, Sun said, in joint efforts to kick the industry into overdrive.

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Free Press Journal