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Exporting nation's culture via pacts

Published on 11/24 2017  Source: China Daily

 

Animation and toy maker Alpha rapidly expands its overseas footprint

Alpha Group Co Ltd, a major toy, animation and entertainment content company, is expanding cooperation with foreign companies, which will further increase its global footprint, according to a senior company executive.

Its business already covers more than 40 nations and regions. Alpha has established more than 20 overseas subsidiaries in North America, Europe, Southeast Asia and South Korea.

Alpha's animations, movies and other entertainment products have been broadcast and sold in more than 100 nations and regions on five continents.

"Cooperation with foreign counterparts plays an important role in exploring international markets, since local partners and special personnel that better understand local markets help Alpha easily integrate with foreign markets," says Seven Wang, executive assistant to Alpha's president.

Alpha has plans to establish two new offshore companies, in Spain and Australia, in two years while more representative offices will also be set up in Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam.

Alpha is also eyeing the New Zealand market, having already started efforts to expand into Canada, Eastern Europe and South America this year.

"Whether a new company will be set up in New Zealand or not has yet to be decided," says Wang. "Alpha has plans to build a new factory to produce toys in Indonesia next year."

As China's biggest branded toy manufacturer, Alpha sold more than 100 million products at home and abroad in 2016, netting more than 1.93 billion yuan ($291 million; 248 million euros; 219 million) from sales, up by more than 20 percent year-on-year.

Alpha already has multiple marketing channels through cooperation with retail giants such as Amazon, Walmart and Target. "Alpha is now seeking to recruit a large number of specialists for overseas development," says Wang.

The company, which is listed on the Shenzhen Stock Exchange, established an international design and research and development center in Los Angeles last year.

The LA center has played a big part in helping Alpha expand its world market in recent months. And the growing overseas operations have helped increase overseas sales, Wang says.

Last year, Alpha earned 1.01 billion yuan from overseas sales, up by 138 percent year-on-year.

In addition to the business of intellectual property or IP licensing, Alpha earned profit mainly from sales of comics, animation products and toys in North America, Europe and Southeast Asia last year, Wang says.

She also says the Belt and Road Initiative will offer even more business opportunities for Alpha and other culture-related companies. "The country's cultural industry has made progress, and the Belt and Road Initiative will certainly help companies to expand in the world market."

In late October, Sun Zhijun, deputy head of the Publicity Department of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, said the Chinese government actively promotes cultural exchanges and cooperation between Chinese and foreign entities.

At a news conference during the 19th CPC National Congress, Sun said: "China's soft power has substantially increased since the 18th CPC National Congress in 2012, making vital contribution to the promotion of the causes of the Party and the nation.

"China ranks first in publications, production and broadcast of television dramas, and movie screenings."

Chen Kaiju, a professor at Guangdong University of Foreign Studies, says culture is a country's soft power, and Chinese cultural companies will help further raise the country's reputation at home and abroad when they set up foreign operations.