Stay healthy. Stay nonstopfresh.


When ending a phone call, meeting or business lunch we used to end with: ‘See you soon!’ Now it’s often: ‘Stay healthy!’ 

It’s the new farewell in the time of COVID-19, a pandemic that brought the world to its knees in no time.


Changes in business

All entrepreneurs must be vigilant when it comes to changing circumstances. Changes in leadership can often prove crucial. Our priority is to put our own people and customers first –  other factors will come second. A higher paycheck is always nice, but can turn out to be less important than communicating a deliberate, flexible and bold approach to change within the organisation. 

Need is the mother of not only invention, but also of trans-formation. Many industries and sectors across the world have always complained that ‘working from home is impossible’ and ‘we need to see each other every day, digital business won’t work for us’, But just look – many have been able to make the switch regardless, and are even saying it wasn’t that 
hard after all.


Taking responsibility and ensuring high performance is what’s important. Just be sure to do a good job! Do you really need to see people in person to do that? Universities are one example of organisations calling for high levels of individual responsibility, but is a physical presence at lectures really necessary? Both here and in other industries, the processes of digitisation and working online have been accelerated. 


Can hospitality businesses survive purely as restaurants? Or will they be forced to become multi-purpose: delicatessen during the day and restaurant at night, with office and home delivery options at lunchtime? In a changing world, hybrid business models may prove to be more future-proof. Imagine if the 1.5-metre economy were permanent: 
perhaps it would cause the turnover time in restaurants to shorten by turning things into a 1.5-hour economy! That would simultaneously take care of the loiterers who take up space without ordering anything.


Aartsen Asia in Hong Kong

The coronavirus has been impacting the daily life in Hong Kong since January. Schools, cinemas, playgrounds and bars are all closed. What used to be large designer stores are now empty shells. Group meetings larger than four are not permitted (facemasks compulsory), and people’s temperatures are being measured everywhere. 


Whole countries are in lockdown, and many wholesale markets are closed. In collaboration with our partners all over the world, we are doing all we can to continue trading as much as possible. We can be proud of our worldwide partners: proud of the attitude we are all taking, and of accepting the realisation that we need to do this together. One thing is certain: we will succeed. We just need to think of one other, and be there for each other!


A thought has just occurred to me: many exclusive brands are currently suffering in Hong Kong due to the lack of sales. 
But many of the world’s trends these days originate in Asia – could facemasks become the new hot fashion item, if they became available in all different colours and shapes? Could be a booming new business for the likes of Gucci, LV and Prada...


Stay healthy, stay active, stay sharp, stay nonstopfresh!


Asia Column - Menno van Breemen, Managing Director of Aartsen Asia in Hong Kong.