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Goodbye lockdown, hello Hong Kong

At Belu, as a social enterprise and a purpose-led business, we believe, that all businesses can be a force for good. But back in March 2020 as the global pandemic took hold and we entered the first Lockdown, our stoic optimism took a sizeable blow. With new social distancing laws, the hospitality market literally shut down overnight, our orders stopped and revenue dried up. With so much uncertainty and fear of the unknown, the outlook was bleak for us and our customers.

“Don’t ever make decisions based on fear.  Make decisions based on hope and possibility.” – Michelle Obama

We had some very difficult decisions to make, made doubly hard with so little visibility of the future. Should we hibernate the business? Hunker down until the situation improves? Pivot? Try diversifying what we do, addressing the new needs of customers & consumers? Or operate? Be agile, drive efficiency and keep things ticking over with government support. A very tough call. We decided hibernation was not a viable option nor one that sat well with our usual glass half full view of the world (of Belu water, naturally). So we focused on what we could do rather than worry about what was out of our control. We continued with business as usual where possible but took the opportunity to focus on the brand we wanted to be going forward. Thinking about how we could innovate whilst remaining true to our core values and customer proposition.

Amazing what you can achieve with the gift of time

A few months ago, we received an enquiry from The Upper House, part of Swire Hotels. We get these types of enquiries all the time, but not from Hong Kong! Belu is a UK social enterprise, so we have never really looked at expansion beyond our own waters. But, why not? With our thinking unconstrained, we took the opportunity to assess the Hong Kong market and it became apparent that there were two very compelling reasons to launch Belu in Hong Kong:

  1. It supports the governments Climate Action Plan 2030 challenging businesses & individuals to reduce their carbon footprint to play their part.
  2. It’s Asia’s culinary capital. Good food deserves good water. There’s one restaurant for every 400 people and 68 restaurants holding Michelin stars.

But how would we set up a new business overseas without being able to visit the country and establish operations on the ground?

Well thankfully, Belu is founded on incredible collaborations and partnerships and in Hong Kong we’ll follow the same operating model. We are excited to be partnering with Metabev, who will be providing technical support on the ground.

“Optics, perception, and ‘ticking the box’ is one thing… we however acknowledge we are at the bottom of a very steep hill, with a lot more we can and should do for our environment and overall social and corporate responsibilities.  We are humbled and proud by the opportunity to represent Belu, and are ready for this uphill challenge” – Roger Chan, Chairman, Metagroup.

We’re also proud to be a member of Food Made Good Hong Kong, a natural extension from our long-standing partnership in the UK with the Sustainable Restaurant Association.

However, none of this would have been possible without our founding collective – a group of like-minded, pioneering businesses who are implementing more sustainable practices that are good for people and good for the planet. We are thrilled to already be working with The Upper House & Mandarin Oriental.

Click here to join our collective and if you’d like to learn more Belu Hong Kong get in touch with me directly charlotteh@belu.org

Written by Charlotte Harrington, Co-CEO Belu.

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