To keep up with rapid changes in the business environment, enterprises of all kinds in Macao, old and new, have tweaked their business models to improve efficiency.
This issue of Macao Image looks at how Macao enterprises are creating and capturing value by inventing new ways to do business. We talked to a retailer of footwear keen on expanding its business beyond the city and we visited a Macao company making health supplements.
The Giorostan Shoe Shop sells shoes of fine leather that are handmade , in house, in accordance with the wearer’s specifications, says Mr Alan Chang Wai Lap, Business Manager of the Giorostan Shoe Shop. Mr Chang told us the creation of custom-made shoes was an art form and that his shop worked to make shoes of the highest quality.
Mr Chang has a great depth of knowledge about shoemaking. Since taking over the Giorostan Shoe Shop from his family, he has made bold changes, introducing new ways to run what was, until he took charge, a conventionally run enterprise. One step he took was to begin offering a range of new and bold styles.
Mr Chang said an eye for detail made all the difference, adding value to the shoes his shop makes, and drawing sophisticated customers that are looking for craftsmanship in their footwear that helps them stand out from the crowd.
“The very feel of Giorostan hand-made footwear conveys the excellence of the quality and skill of the craftsman,” Mr Chang said. “Thread by thread, the shoemakers sew pieces of very fine Italian leather together to create footwear that is at once classic yet stylish. From start to finish, making a pair of shoes by hand requires over 300 steps – some major, some minor,” he said.
Across the three decades that Giorostan has been running shoemaking and sales businesses, the enterprise has built up close partnership with suppliers in Mainland China. Mr Chang’s experience gives him confidence that Giorostan’s shoes can compete in the Macao market.
Two steps ahead
The Giorostan Shoe Shop is in the Centro Comercial Vong Kam in the north of Macao. The shop displays nearly 20 of its own styles of shoes. The price for a pair of Giorostan hand-made leather shoes begins at MOP2,000 and varies according to the amount of work needed to meet the customer’s specifications. A pair usually takes between one and three weeks to make.
Mr Chang said the Giorostan Shoe Shop was determined to establish a foothold in the Mainland Chinese market as a Macao brand. The plan for developing the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area may help Macao enterprises such as Mr Chang’s expand their business.
“In recent years we have exhibited our products at trade shows and exhibitions. We have been to cities with sales potential such as Shanghai and Guangzhou to show off what we have to offer,” Mr Chang said.
The advent of shopping online means Mainland Chinese customers can now order Giorostan shoes on Alibaba’s online retail platform. But Mr Chang aims to go further and open a bricks-and-mortar branch of the Giorostan Shoe Shop in Mainland China.
A pair of handcrafted shoes can highlight the wearer’s sense of style and give the wearer confidence in choosing different outfits. Mr Chang said a classic style with a modern twist was always in vogue. He said the Giorostan Shoe Shop gave its shoes a creative touch by getting Macao artists to dye the materials. “We wish to partner with like-minded local designers or artists to create hand-made shoes that are one of a kind,” he said.
Natural value extracted for health
Ophiocordyceps sinensis, commonly known as the caterpillar fungus, is one of the most sought-after parasites in the world. The caterpillar fungus has a reputation among Chinese for healing and health-giving properties. That reputation and the rarity of the fungus make it highly valued among Chinese.
Modern technologies allow effective combination of caterpillar fungus and other reputedly beneficial substances to be extracts as health supplements. Macao maker of health supplements AKSO Innovation & Technology Co. Ltd. was established in 2018 to make quality health supplements out of caterpillar fungus.
Ms Vicki Lao, General Manager of AKSO Innovation & Technology, told Macao Image that her enterprise endeavoured to process the health supplements it makes wholly in Macao. She said her company was developing health supplements of high quality from the caterpillar fungus, including supplements containing solely extract of caterpillar fungus, and supplements combining the caterpillar fungus extracts with other health-giving substances.
The Chinese brand name borne by the products AKSO makes connotes love and praise for life and health. “By systematically and ecologically growing general caterpillar fungus into cordyceps militaris, which is more health-giving, with constantly bettered selection of materials and research, we managed to develop cordyceps supplement products with up to 1.2 percent cordycepin,” Ms Lao said. She said that was a higher percentage than most other products in the market.
Ms Lao said the effect of AKSO cordyceps products was to better balance human body’s composition and boost people’s immune system and that, in the long run, it was good for users’ health in other ways.
“To suit consumer preferences, AKSO produces cordyceps products in the form of powder, capsules and candy,” Ms Lao said. The prices of products range from a few hundred patacas to a few thousand, depending on the ingredients.
It is supremely important to AKSO that it is a Macao enterprise. So, its health supplements come in packaging meant to indicate aspects of Macao. The deep blue colour of the packaging is meant to be reminiscent of the sea around the city – which is also an auspicious implication of the company making its name in overseas regions – and the pattern on the packaging is meant to be reminiscent the patterns on Chinese porcelain and Portuguese tiles, integrating Macao’s cultural elements.
Planning for popularity
AKSO has a factory with a floor area of 10,000 square feet in the Zhuhai-Macao Cross-Border Industrial Zone, which Ms Lao regards as ample for the work it does. The factory floor is divided into four zones, each performing a different function.
Ms Lao said the factory was well equipped to make high-quality cordyceps products. The importance of hygiene and safety are paramount. “Our staff are required to disinfect themselves and put on protective gear before entering the factory, to ensure absolute hygiene in the production area,” she said. “Each piece of machinery is in a separate room, to ensure each session of production process was conducted smoothly.”
The factory first mixes the ingredients it uses and processes them into the AKSO product lines, before they are packaged and shipped. Ms Lao said the factory usually took about a fortnight from receiving an order to make 100 kg of one of its products.
AKSO health supplements are sold in pharmacies and shops in Macao. The company intends to open in Avenida de Almeida Ribeiro what Ms Lao describes as a flagship store soon, to reach more customers and promote its brands. The company also intends to reach more online shoppers by selling its products on the Tmall online retailing website in Mainland China. And it means to do deals with big companies in Macao, such as the operators of integrated resorts, to promote its products to travellers.