As BW Industrial Development JSC (BW) continues on its growth trajectory, CEO Lance Li discusses the company’s commitment to supporting Vietnam in the fight against COVID-19.
Li, COVID-19 has affected Vietnam and the wider world for over 18 months; how has the recent rise of the Delta variant affected your business?
The pandemic has dramatically changed the way people live and work. From a business perspective, it’s been an accelerant for what we think is among the most critical secular trends – the rise of e-commerce. This is coupled with the continued growth of our logistics real estate business. We’re seeing an increasing demand for modern warehousing, cold chains, and cold storage. E-commerce in Vietnam, which currently accounts for a mere 5.5 percent of the total retail sales, is still in a relatively nascent stage; we expect it to grow significantly in the coming years.
In a recent press release, your company and strategic partner ESR announced the conversion of a 40,000-sqm ready-built warehouse into a COVID-19 field treatment center. How did you make this happen?
Yes, we converted a warehouse into a COVID-19 field treatment center and have since doubled the area to 80,000 sqm in response to the rising number of cases in Binh Duong Province [just outside Ho Chi Minh City]. This is a great example of collaboration between entrepreneurs and local authorities in the fight against COVID-19. BW and ESR are responsible for providing electricity, water, and toilet facilities in the treatment center while Becamex [a state-run company in the province] is in charge of interior fit-out, and the People’s Committee of Binh Duong is handling the installation of necessary medical equipment.
|Lance Li, CEO of BW Industrial Development JSC|
With a 11,800-bed capacity, it is one of the few field treatment centers in the country capable of appropriately segregating and treating a range of COVID-19 patients, from asymptomatic to severe cases. Around 600 beds are equipped with ventilators that are connected to a central oxygen supply system.
It’s great to hear how agile the company has been in response to the pandemic. Is this a one-off activity or something BW does on a regular basis?
Social responsibility is deeply ingrained in our corporate culture. We’re committed to giving back to the communities we’re in, and now more than ever, in the wake of COVID-19.
On August 10, we coordinated with local authorities for tenants of our BW Supply Chain City Industrial Park to receive vaccinations, to ensure a safe environment for all. In July, we donated VND1 billion [US$44,000] to the Vietnam Fatherland Front Committee of Binh Duong Province in response to a call for public donations to buy vaccines. In June, we supported the Tan Phu Trung Industrial Park in initiating one of Ho Chi Minh City’s largest COVID-19 vaccination campaigns by providing our facilities as a base.
|Tenants receive vaccinations on BW Vaccination Day at BW Supply Chain City (BWSCC).|
As an industry leader, what are your plans beyond corporate social responsibility (CSR)?
That’s a great question. CSR is just a part of BW’s 2021-2030 environmental, social, and governance (ESG) strategic plan. We aim to provide sustainable properties to meet customer needs while supporting well-being, diversity, gender equality, and the use of clean, affordable energy. Beyond our CSR goals, the Board of Directors has set out a clear vision and a series of targets across three key pillars: People and Culture, Property, and Corporate Commitment. We will strive to improve gender equality, achieve zero workforce fatalities, attain one million sqm of solar roofing coverage, deliver five LEED-certified projects, and invest significantly in social enterprises and local community foundations by 2030. We are committed to protecting the country’s natural resources, our stakeholders, and communities to become a better corporate citizen.
In your work with investors, how high on the list of requirements is having a favorable ESG profile for your business? Is not having things like a low carbon impact a deal-breaker?
With growing public awareness and concern about environmental protection, clean industrial facilities will be the way of the future. We believe integrating ESG factors into our operations will help save costs and create a long-term positive impact, and ultimately build a durable and successful company.
|BW provides facilities within the Tan Phu Trung Industrial Park for Ho Chi Minh City’s largest COVID-19 vaccination campaign.|
What is the most significant change you expect to see in the industrial logistics market as we head toward 2022?
Vietnam’s market will heal with the containment of the pandemic. The e-commerce marketplace will experience a boom, which will have to be backed by Grade A logistics infrastructure. This will lead to the accelerated development of the industrial logistics sector, fueled largely by the demand for ready-built factories.