A Cork businessman who owns an international distribution firm based in China has told of how his company has rebounded since coronavirus restrictions were eased in the country.
Alan Coughlan started his business, Lansil Global, in China five years ago after originally going there to study for a masters degree.
The company supplies e-commerce brands all over the world. "We can manufacture their products, brand them, store them in our warehouse, quality-check them, and then we ship those packages globally for our customers," he said.
At the start of the year, the company employed 55 people in China and five in the US. That number is now 62 in China, with five more due to begin this week, and a further 10 expected to join the US operation this month.
Coughlan, who divides his time between the UK and China, first heard about the coronavirus restrictions in January. "At this stage, the rest of the world was fine; my customers were fine. We were in shock all of a sudden; we were closed for a month. Our customers therefore were having trouble fulfilling their orders," he said.
Although his business lost revenue - which is now running at $3m (€2.8m) a month - he says it worked through it and was able to reopen, using masks and disinfecting the company warehouse daily.
However, when his business returned to normal, his international customers' offices were closed, as were some ports. In the past, Lansil transported goods in the cargo holds of passenger planes, but those too became unavailable.
Another fallout has been a reversal in how air freight is charged. Under normal circumstances, the more freight being sent by a company, the cheaper it is. Now, the greater the weight, the greater the price per kilogram.
Lansil has an advantage as it does not need to ship in bulk.
"Today, we received 15,137 new orders; it is probably the best day we've ever had," he said.
Each order has two or three products, so it translates into 25,000 products, ranging from home improvement items to cosmetics and gym gear.
"I am so positive on the business front, on the opportunity front, and also on getting through it all and seeing an end to this lockdown.
"For us, more people are going to shop online than ever before for the next six to 12 months."
He said that in the US, for example, people might not be buying items such as cosmetics online to the same extent, but Lansil's business model will allow it to adapt quickly to supply different product requirements.
Sunday Indo Business