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Wang Jianlin, chairman of Dalian Wanda Group, sees every new challenge as an opportunity for growth. [Photo: China Daily]
Innovation, perseverance help Wanda stay ahead of competition
Wang Jianlin is not afraid of challenges or changes. Rather, he sees them as the much-needed adrenalin that helps the Dalian Wanda Group Co to stay ahead of the competition in China.
"If you have a dream, you must protect it. Similarly, if you want something, you must go and get it," says Wang, chairman of the Wanda Group whose business interests span sectors as diverse as real estate, hotels, department stores, culture and tourism.
Dressed in a well-tailored suit, the 58-year-old tycoon, who ranks the 276th on the 2012 Forbes Billionaires List with wealth of $4 billion, says in a firm baritone that: "Every challenge is a new growth opportunity and a new starting point. It is this perseverance that has helped us overcome many challenges and made us into what we are today.
"Transforming the culture and travel business of the group is the foremost challenge for the Wanda Group now."
Although the exercise is not that easy, Wang says he loves the challenges associated with it. "The robust economy and better living standards in China have given a fillip to the tourism and culture industries."
Wang says this is also a challenge. Unlocking the commercial value from these industries is not easy, considering now much tastes and preferences can vary. His confidence is such that he expects by 2020, the two sectors to have a major say in the overall group turnover, along with commercial property. An optimistic Wang even goes to the extent of admitting that in the long run he expects culture and tourism to surpass commercial property in terms of returns.
Commercial property accounted for nearly 90 percent of the group's 105.1 billion yuan ($16.65 billion, 12.83 billion euros) revenue in 2011. Most of it came from the 16 Wanda plazas, 12 five-star hotels and 14 department stores of the group spread across the nation.
Though Wanda Group entered the tourism and culture sectors in 2005, most of its initial investments still remained low-key. But by 2011, all of that had changed. With investments of over 10 billion yuan in the culture industry, Wanda Group is the largest corporate investor in the sector in China.
And the initial investments seem to have paid off for the group. Film distribution and production, cultural entertainment chains, stage shows, and collections of Chinese calligraphy and paintings are now the main thrust areas for Wanda Group.
Speaking at the 2012 Annual Summit of Green Companies held by the China Entrepreneur Club in Wuhan, Hubei province, in April, Wang said revenue from the sector would surpass 20 billion yuan this year to make Wanda the largest corporate entity in China's culture sector.
"We expect revenues of more than 40 billion yuan from the culture industry in the next five years and a ranking in the top 50 culture firms globally. This will mark an important transformation in Wanda's development," Wang says.
Its subsidiary, Wanda Cinema Line Corp, is currently the largest theater operator in China with 84 movie theaters and 730 screens. It is also awaiting approval for an initial public offering this year or next.
Though culture is an important pivot for Wanda, it does not mean that travel is being given short shrift. Wanda is establishing five large-scale resorts in China with a total investment of more than 100 billion yuan.
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