Our GREAT Week of Creativity in Hong Kong (5-9 November) was a huge success! Showcasing the best in British fashion, design and craftsmanship the Consulate and private sector partners put on over 30 events during the week - www.greatweek.hk. The London Design Festival held their first ever Global Design Summit outside the UK. The British Fashion Council staged “Showrooms” featuring up and coming designers such as Roksanda Ilincic. The Walpole Group awarded their Medal of Excellence to a leading Hong Kong business figure (and owner of Kent & Curwen and Gieves & Hawkes) at our VIP launch party.
Highlights for me included on day one feeling part of something big and re-assuringly professional with our panel discussion led by British Business Ambassadors Lord Marland, Sir John Sorrell and Anya Hindmarch and our Consul General, Caroline Wilson. And later in the week meeting Thomas Heatherwick, the brilliant designer of the Olympic Cauldron, Shanghai Expo UK pavilion and many more brilliant projects.
The week enabled both new and established British brands to show what they had to offer. Mulberry launched their Brilliant Britain campaign at their new flagship store. Anya Hindmarch, Paul Smith, Pringle, Vivian Westwood, Hackett, Harvey Nichols and others linked in their separate events to the week. Silver Cross opened their first own brand store anywhere in the world.
The events were accompanied by the UK’s largest trade mission to Hong Kong – 53 companies looking to introduce their products and services for the first time to the Hong Kong and mainland China markets, or to increase their business and profile; promoting a diverse range of goods and services - from British folding bikes, luxury fashion and vehicles and top design to spectacles, umbrellas and wine. In addition to briefings, contact making and business workshops on IP in mainland China, visiting colleagues from nine Asian countries (China, Japan, Australia, Thailand, Vietnam, Philippines, South Korea, Indonesia, Singapore) introduced opportunities in their markets.
We secured strong media coverage throughout the week. On Monday, Hong Kong’s leading English language daily identified the GREAT week as a story to watch, under the headline “Britons aim for great impression.” We also had some great digital coverage with our GREAT messages beamed across Victoria Harbour. Some photos here.
Hong Kong is the ideal location for this campaign as a sophisticated market, our second largest in Asia Pacific (after mainland China) for exports of goods, the premier shopping destination in Asia, and a launch pad into the mainland Chinese market. And the week would not have been possible without the support of four prestigious UK organisations: the London Design Festival, the British Fashion Council, the Walpole Group and the Crafts Council.
The week ended with a private viewing of Skyfall with guests from Brunswick and Visit Britain preceded by a reception at the Consulate. This was made all the more glamorous by the presence of a classic Aston DB5 (same model as the film) outside the Consulate. And Lord Sebastian Coe was in Hong Kong and posed with our very own "M" , in the form of our Consul-General, Caroline Wilson - what an amazing end to the week!
Export Week - Explore Export
There was no time to take breath and the day after GWOC I was on a plane to UK to take part in Export Week. There I met up with UK Trade & Investment commercial officer colleagues from around 60 of our markets/countries from round the world. We have been travelling the country to meet companies that want help to export their products or services overseas. On consecutive days we held clinics in Cambridge, Northampton, Leeds, Birmingham and Bristol. I met over 75 companies for 1:1 meetings to offer practical advice and to assess and discuss their potential for exporting to Hong Kong. This will now be followed up further discussions and hopefully a good number will visit Hong Kong to explore the market with our help. The range of companies is diverse - from one person companies to quite big companies that are looking for new markets and in sectors such as design, fashion, IT, technology, advanced engineering, construction, food and drink, education and training - all of which have potential in a market as diverse as Hong Kong.
And in the middle of the week, after a day of meetings in Leeds, I dashed by train to London for the wonderful Annual Hong Kong dinner, hosted by HKTDC at which both the Chancellor, George Osborne, and Lord Green, Minister for Trade & Investment, made speeches. I was able to re-assure Lord Green that his "team" were indeed walking the talk by engaging with so many companies directly about exporting. Then it was a dash to Marylebone and the train to Birmingham ready for another full day of meetings......the life of a diplomat is not ALL glamour!