People and prosperity

My big break: I owe my success to my clients

Food and beverage entrepreneur Lu Mao Jun shares how starting a business changed his destiny

Company snapshot

  • Name: Shanghai Bonufood
  • Location: Shanghai, China
  • Turnover: USD5.3 million
  • Number of employees: 52

How it all began

I was brought up in rural China. I was 10 years old when my father died, leaving my mother to bring me up single-handedly. One of my earliest memories is the first time I visited Shanghai and saw the street lights at night. I remember how inspired I felt by the buzz of the city. That’s when I knew I wanted to change my destiny and get my family out of the countryside.

When an opportunity to start my own commercial kitchen supplies business struck, I jumped on it. My employer at the time decided he would not grow his business further in China. As I already had the contacts and understood the business, I knew I could start my own venture and make it a success. So with seed capital from my father-in-law and friends, I was able to start Shanghai Bonufood, which today is a leading integrated food and beverage and kitchen equipment company, operating 40 restaurant outlets in Jiangsu, Zhejiang and Shanghai.

My toughest lesson

Finding funding and contracts for a new company is never easy. But what I learnt is that no matter how tough the challenge is, there is always a solution. You should never be afraid to ask for help. We encounter many mentors in our lives. Don’t be afraid to reach out to contacts for help. You will be amazed at how important your network is.

My light bulb moment

From the start I knew building scale was important, particularly in a country as large and populous as China. I realised that to grow the business, we could not simply rely on being an importer and distributor of kitchen equipment. We had to develop our own intellectual property and brand. So we built our first factory and developed a range of branded kitchen equipment to sell to restaurants throughout China. The move opened other doors and we expanded into complementary businesses across the value chain, such as supplying ingredients and operating restaurants.

Finding funding

I want Shanghai Bonufood to be the number one company for Italian food and products in China. With a business loan from Standard Chartered we are in stronger position financially and, as a result, we made an investment in a research and development centre in Italy to improve our Italian ingredient product lines. We are a company with global ambitions so we wanted to partner an international bank that had the right lending solutions, networks, reputation and brand.

I owe my success to

My clients have been loyal supporters of my business. I never think the relationship ends with a sale. I want to create value and help our clients grow their businesses, so whether it is supplying them with kitchen equipment, ingredients or giving them training on restaurant management best practices, I want to help them succeed.

Standard Chartered has been providing business banking services to Shanghai Bonufood since 2012.
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