U.S. firm eyes Asia for relocation services


Asia has emerged as the fastest growing market for relocation services amid a spiralling demand from multinationals moving manufacturing bases to the region, the head of U.S.-based UniGroup said in published remarks Friday. “It makes sense to be where folks are growing,” The Straits Times quoted Richard McClure, president of UniGroup, as saying.

The company’s global arm UniGroup Worldwide opened its first offices in the region last month after buying the Asian subsidiary of London-based Interdean Group.

As a result, UniGroup has offices in Manila, Hong Kong and Beijing. Its regional base is in Singapore.

Interdean reported a 31 percent year-on-year rise in business across Asia, with a 54 percent surge in income from China in 2006.

“In the U.S., we serve 440 of the Fortune 500 (companies),” McClure was quoted as saying, adding a number of customers are already in China, Hong Kong and Singapore. As multinationals move manufacturing bases to Asia, particularly India and China, there is a growing demand for help not only in relocating staff but also in transporting machinery and computer servers, McClure said.

UniGroup helps 20,000 people move internationally each year.

Such moves require knowledge of the customs regulations enabling ships to be cleared quickly.

“You can’t expect the human resource person in a multinational company, and certainly not the person being transferred, to know all those things,” he told the newspaper.

The Asian market presents the challenge of keeping up with the region’s tremendous growth.

“You’re not chasing somebody else’s market share, you are chasing new growth,” he added.