Poly Culture sets sights on overseas markets
Updated: 2013-06-05 13:30
By Hu Haiyan (China Daily)
They are probably the most famous ox, tiger, monkey and pig heads in China, and befitting their status as national treasures the bronze sculptures are under round-the-clock surveillance in Beijing.
The curator of the four heads, which spent more than 150 years abroad after British and French soldiers looted them from Beijing's Yuanmingyuan Park, or the Old Summer Palace, in 1860, is Poly Culture Group Co (Poly Culture), which is at the forefront of China's culture industry.
The current home of the four heads is the Poly Art Museum on the ninth floor of New Poly Plaza in Beijing, China Poly Group Corporation's headquarters, a glass-clad skyscraper.
The four heads and many other pieces on display in the museum are a big attraction for enthusiastic art lovers, but Jiang Yingchun, general manager of Poly Culture, spreads his enthusiasm a lot more widely.
There is no reason why Chinese companies in the culture industry with their huge domestic market, including Poly, cannot successfully expand overseas and develop into major international brands, he said.
"With our perfect combination of art and business skills I believe Poly culture has every reason to become one of the biggest cultural enterprises in the nation," said Jiang.
China's cultural industry had a long way to go to catch up with that in the West, but has developed rapidly in recent years.
"China's culture industry is of great potential. As living standards have improved, spending on culture will also rise," said Jiang.
Last year, revenue from the nation's culture industry accounted for around 2 percent of the nation's GDP, "a very small percentage, which will definitely increase in the future", said Jiang.
Established in February 2000, Poly Culture has become one of the largest domestic cultural enterprises, with its business spanning into the areas including performance, theatre management, cultural relics collections, auctions and cinema.
Beijing Poly Theatre Management Co Ltd, one of Poly Culture's subsidiaries, has developed a chain store theatre management business system.
The company now manages 32 first-class theatres across the nation. It has also formed an alliance with a number of major theatres to promote business cooperation, share performance information and establish a national ticketing network.
Last year, Poly's turnover from its culture business was more than 1 billion yuan, said Jiang.
Although this is far from significant when compared with the group's overall revenue of 100 billion yuan last year, the culture industry is of key importance for the group to develop in a sustainable way and greatly helps to build its corporate image, said Chen Hongsheng, chairman of the group.
Almost at the same time Poly Culture was set up, Poly became a household name by acquiring the four famous Yuanmingyuan Park animal heads from foreign auction houses.
The purchase of the lost cultural relics helped the group enhance its brand image as a responsible and patriotic company and enhanced its reputation among customers, said Chen.
"When the group promotes its real estate business across the nation, many people tell Poly employees that they are not worried that Poly construction projects will end up unfinished, since it is such a responsible company," Chen said.
"We acquired the animal heads due to our corporate responsibility."
To gain a bigger slice of the expanding culture industry, Jiang said that Poly Culture is considering tapping the overseas market further and is awaiting approval for an IPO this or next year.
In terms of exploring the international market, Poly Culture is considering conducting more exchanges, conducting some mergers and acquisitions overseas, and expanding its auction business into the international arena.
Taking performance as its core business, Poly Culture not only operates and organizes national and even international tours of outstanding domestic projects, but also actively imports excellent international cultural projects to China such as the London Philharmonic Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra concert, and musicals including Mamma Mia, Cats, and Notre-Dame de Paris.
Poly Culture is also engaged in auctions and sales of artwork, with an emphasis on auctions of Chinese antiques, ancient and contemporary Chinese paintings, calligraphy and artworks, and antique identification, restoration and exhibitions.
Last year, Poly Auction (Hong Kong) Limited was set up and became one of the most active auctioneers in Hong Kong and throughout the Asia-Pacific region.
"Our Hong Kong auction company offers a good platform for us to tap the overseas auction market. Based on this, we will keep on our selecting strategies and keep improving and developing our business, establishing and consolidating our role as an internationally oriented company," said Jiang.