Li and Fung: From an Export Trading Company to Coordinator of Value-Added Services

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Li & Fung, which is a long-standing Hong Kong based company, has evolved from an export trading company to a coordinator of value-added services across the whole supply chain in a global, open manufacturing circumstance. Its corporate culture has enabled it to keep pace with the current trend of global business. The successful acquisitions and the venture capital make the company grows stably and rapidly. However, the company now faces some challenges coming from Asian financial environment and related policies. High sensitive of the change in macro environment is essential for the company to success. At the same time, keeping Asia in an important position could take long time competitive advantages. Finally, the update of information and technology may bring more efficiency and effective within the organization.

Li & Fung was the first export company that solely funded by Chinese capital in Chinese trade history. Fung Yiu-hing and Li To-ming founded it in 1906 in Guangzhou, China. The firm grew to be a limited company in Hong Kong on December 28, 1937. The company expanded quickly to globalize by the leading of the second generation from the Fung family. The high-speed growth of Li & Fung Limited started when the third generation of Fung’s family took over the organization. The core parts of the company’s business are foreign trade, logistic, distribution and retail. Victor and William tried to restructure the company, use the modem human resource management, and utilized professional management skills to control the company without eliminating the Chinese style management. Li & Fung Limited made use of acquisition to take over the competitors and expanded their suppliers and clients all over the world. The most famous and successful one is the acquisition of Inchcape Buying Services (IBS), which helped Li & Fung Limited to open the European market. At the same time, the brothers establish a venture capital corporation to accompany the suppliers and stable its supply chain. According to one anonymous (1999), Li & Fung is the world’s largest trade sourcing company and it pioneers a new model for multinationals. By now, William and Victor want to expand the company from Asia based company into a region closer to their target market. With the new trend of the global economy, Li & Fung Limited will encounter more challenges and find a way out of a difficulty. Since its foundation, the company has establishes a culture that incorporates pragmatism and innovation. According to Msmith (2008), the progressive corporate culture, which blends traditional pragmatic reasoning with entrepreneurial innovation, has enabled adaptability and growth in a dynamic market.  Additionally, it combines the Chinese business culture (“Chineseness”) with the foreign operations. Not only is it expects loyalty and reward diligent, but it also has a reasonable and transparent bonus system, where bonuses were based solely on profit performance. Generally, the company is employee-concerned, where the workers and managers are treated as family. As is the vision of the corporation, they strive to use resources efficiently; to add business value for our customers and their suppliers; to focus on the health and wellbeing of our colleagues; and to positively impact our communities and societies (2013). Analysis of Li & Fung

Li & Fung’s outsourcing matrix suits particularly well to its global position and activity: To begin with, outsourcing teams are firstly divided into two main product categories: soft and hard goods. Since they “specialized” in a certain kind of good, they develop a certain expertise, which is an asset in their discussions with external agents. Besides, inside each category, the teams are divided depending on their geographical market. This organization displays an advantage in satisfying specific local needs. Furthermore, connection and communication is established...
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