13 Feb 2017
Like so many before her, happenstance drew Catherine Granger to expand her business to Hong Kong. The British-born serial entrepreneur is the founder and Managing Partner of three companies, including the Dubai-based business advisory Trajan consulting. Last October, the company opened a Hong Kong branch and Ms Granger plans to use the city as a springboard to further regional expansion.
Her introduction to Hong Kong had come just a few months earlier.
“I’d been asked by a client – Thomas Knudsen, CEO of Damco Asia (part of the Maersk group) – to come to Hong Kong and help make his warehousing activities more efficient,” Ms Granger explained. “Whilst my team and I were in Hong Kong, we received more enquiries from other major players, especially in the supply chain arena (container terminals through to delivery of goods). Thomas provided us with very positive feedback and offered to be a reference to Trajan consulting for further work.” Thus the wheels of expansion were set in motion.
During her initial time in the city, Ms Granger “was amazed at the capability in Hong Kong” and fell in love with the people.
“Trajan relies on word-of-mouth and recommendations from clients,” she said. “We form close relationships in our business dealings, which is a strong point of Hong Kong as well. So in that regard, Hong Kong is a very vibrant place for us to be.
“In terms of our client base, some of the largest players in the world are there and the city provides excellent access to Southeast Asia, where we plan to expand.”
Core Business Model
Apart from her consultancy business, Ms Granger runs two other companies: LKJ International luxury brands agency and luxury shoe range So Soulier.
“I have owned two management consultancies in the past, and this is my core business model,” Ms Granger said. “A few years ago, I decided that I wanted to design my own shoes – something unique that was different to anything else on the market. I designed a range of glossy tartan soles that represent my Scottish heritage; a range of bespoke shoes that can be personalised with the client’s name on the sole; and wedding shoes, which are delivered in a customised glass box with rose petals. It began as a hobby, but I was always asked about my shoes from friends and family, hence So Soulier was born.”
Named after her three daughters, Laura, Kayleigh and Jennifer, LKJ International, meanwhile brings in small, innovative brands into the MENA and Gulf region. Ms Granger said she also plans to expand this side of business in Hong Kong.
Adapting to Market Needs
Trajan consulting was established in 2008, specialising in a range of services based around supply chain management, FMCG, oil and gas industries, Lean and Six Sigma training and certification, ISO accreditation and, more recently, cybersecurity expertise and counter fraud consulting.
“My company offers increasing market share, operational efficiency and profitability,” Ms Granger said. “Our clients include Amazon, Maersk, Nestle, Microsoft, Damco, Aggreko, UBS – we can apply what we do to any industry sector.”
Noticing that cybersecurity was becoming a global issue, Ms Granger started offering audits against security infrastructures being hacked. “I have many clients in the retail banking sector and recently I added counter-fraud management,” she said.
“Hong Kong is one of the world’s most significant financial centres, with the highest financial development index score, and consistently ranks as the world’s most competitive and most laissez-faire economic entity in the world.”
The structure of Trajan consulting changed when a current client made a significant but confidential investment to expand and grow the company – at the same time that Ms Granger was experiencing significant demand for its services from clients in Southeast Asia, and in particular Hong Kong.
“It made perfect business sense to be based in Hong Kong, where we were able to serve our clients more conveniently,” she said. “Hong Kong is one of the world’s most significant financial centres, with the highest financial development index score, and consistently ranks as the world’s most competitive and most laissez-faire economic entity in the world.”
Ms Ganger now divides her time between Dubai, Europe and Hong Kong, and is aiming for the Chinese mainland and Singapore in 2018-2019.
“I am delighted about the growth of our company and am pleased that we now have a dedicated team of both expat and local people based in our offices in Hong Kong,” she said.