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Business trip to China: “Exactly what I was looking for”

Until recently, China was still new territory for Urs Lehmann, CEO of Similasan AG. However, a Fact Finding Mission organized by Switzerland Global Enterprise (S-GE) and the Swiss Business Hub China changed all that. Lehmann's expectations were even exceeded.

Thanks to the support and network of S-GE Urs Lehmann was able to make valuable new contacts.
Thanks to the support and network of S-GE Urs Lehmann was able to make valuable new contacts.

Urs Lehmann spent just two days in the Middle Kingdom. It was not without reason that the CEO of Similasan AG chose the tight time frame: “For C-level people like myself, time is unfortunately always a very scare commodity. two days were just right for what I wanted in China.” What exactly did Lehmann want in China? “First and foremost, I wanted to get to know and understand the Chinese market.”

Perfect organization

Similasan AG develops and produces natural remedies in Jonen, Aargau. Internationalization is an important issue for the company. Similasan exports its products to many countries, most notably the US, where Similasan has become one of a handful of successful homeopathic remedies. The company is also well represented in the South American market as well as in Central and Eastern Europe. As a next step, Similasan wants to gain a foothold in the Chinese market.

Urs Lehmann’s expectations of the Fact Finding Mission were fulfilled: “The organization was perfect, the program compact and tailored to my requirements,” says the former Swiss ski racer. “Straight away on the first morning, I had the opportunity to talk to a Chinese expert for over-the-counter (OTC) drugs about the Chinese OTC market and registration issues. I was then able to visit several Chinese pharmacy chains in the afternoon. So I got a great overview of the Chinese OTC market in just one day.”

Positively surprised

But the real highlight of the journey still awaited him. On the second day, he went from Beijing to Tianjin – nearly 100 miles away – in just 30 minutes by high-speed train. On the agenda there was a visit to the Chinese pharmaceutical company Tasly.

What Urs Lehmann didn’t know is that the executive management of Tasly anticipated his visit with great interest; the billion dollar company wants to further expand its international business and is searching international partners for this purpose. “The executive management of Tasly knew that our brand had a very good reputation and immediately presented me with a concrete proposal for a future working relationship. It was a very pleasant suprise,” says a delighted Lehmann.

Valuable contacts

All this meant that Urs Lehmann was able to return to Switzerland far from empty-handed. The 48-year-old has in particular the support provided by the Swiss Business Hub China to thank for this: “Susi Wang from the Swiss Business Hub China was an expert partner during the entire Fact Finding Mission.” Susi Wang, trade promotion expert, is also satisfied: “I am pleased that we were able to make contact with a suitable company for Similasan and that Mr. Lehmann was able to bring real added value back with him to Switzerland.

Would Urs Lehmann also recommend the Fact Finding Mission format to representatives from other SMEs? “Absolutely. Thanks to the professional organization, I was able to establish valuable contacts in China and set up an initial network in just two days. Every Swiss SME can benefit from the knowledge and contacts of S-GE and the Swiss Business Hubs.”

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