Entrepreneur Johnathan Hanh Nguyen: Khanh Hoa-born Expatriate

10:53:04 AM | 4/5/2017

“Having visited and lived in many places in the world, I just know that no other place is better than the fatherland. Wherever I go and whatever I do, I always want to do something significant to make our country more prosperous, more beautiful,” Mr Johnathan Hanh Nguyen, President of Imex Pan Pacific Group, said about his feelings for the homeland.

“King of branded goods”
Johnathan Hanh Nguyen started his career with the aviation industry. He served as a financial inspector for the United States-based Boeing Company. In the early 1980s, he worked for Philippine Airlines and he made great efforts in negotiations for opening the official flight route between Vietnam and the Philippines in 1985. On September 9, 1985, he was one of the first overseas Vietnamese to pool capital and establish Imex Pan Pacific Group (IPP) where he is an incumbent President of the Board of Directors.

He has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in more than 30 projects ranging from hospitality, manufacturing, duty-free shops, fashion, cosmetics, fast food, advertising and investment services, and airport management.

He has cooperated with such partners as DFS, SASCO and AUTOGRILL to invest in a range of duty-free shops, souvenir shops, fast food chains and non-aeronautic services in many airports in Vietnam and the Philippines. IPPG is also an official and exclusive distributor for many world-class premium fashion, perfume, cosmetics, jewellery, watch, wine and cigarette brands and luxury culinary services-restaurants. These operations bring in more than US$600 million of revenue and employ more than 22,000 people in Vietnam.

Johnathan Hanh Nguyen is the backer of renowned investment deals such as Trang Tien Plaza (Hanoi) and Rex Hotel (Ho Chi Minh City). As for Trang Tien Plaza, he invested over US$45 million to renovate and construct over 17,000 square metres of retail spaces for more than 110 world-class brands such as Bvlgari, Chanel, Christian Dior, Cartier, Zegna, Lancôme, Louis Vuitton, Salvatore Ferragamo and Rolex. This was seen as a shopping mall and entertainment centre of interest by the Hanoi People’s Committee for tourists and residents in Hanoi. And, only Jonathan Hanh Nguyen could do this.

Running a series of high-grade shopping malls and being an exclusive distributor of more than 92 leading luxury fashion, watch, jewellery and leatherwear brands of the world together with 600 retail stores in his distribution systems. Therefore, he was dubbed the “king of branded goods” by the press and the business world.

Precious presents for the fatherland
Johnathan Hanh Nguyen, born in 1951 in Nha Trang City, left his home to settle in the Philippines at the age of 23 and then went to the US to study and work in the aviation industry. Although he worked for world-leading companies like Boeing and Philippine Airlines in foreign countries, he still always thought of the motherland. He revealed: Having visited and lived in many places in the world, I just know that no other place is better than the fatherland. Wherever I go and whatever I do, I always want to do something significant to make our country more prosperous, more beautiful.

With that thinking, Johnathan Hanh Nguyen started to invest in Khanh Hoa province immediately after returning home in 1985. His first project was the 3-star 14-storey Loge Nha Trang Hotel, costing nearly US$10 million. At the time, this was the tallest hotel in central Vietnam and the highlight of Nha Trang City. And, its investment value of nearly US$10 million was a huge sum then. Besides, Johnathan Hanh Nguyen continued to spend tens of millions of US dollars to invest in rattan factories and zip production factories for export in Nha Trang City. To date, these projects are operating very well and employing about 8,000 workers, thus contributing positively to local socioeconomic development.

Later, seeing development opportunities in other localities, he shifted his investment direction and set up the main office in Ho Chi Minh City. Recently, after the Government advocated allowing the private sector to invest in the aviation industry. Johnathan Hanh Nguyen became a “hot” name in Khanh Hoa province after Cam Ranh International Airport opened investment bids.

He worked for airlines for 10 years and provided aviation services for over 20 years. His passion for the aviation industry is ingrained in the blood and he thus felt very excited and motivated when he heard about Vietnam’s intention to allow the private sector to invest in the aviation industry. More happily, he carried out the project on his birthplace.

With his experience and competence, Mr Johnathan Hanh Nguyen with five other partners were entrusted to carry out the international passenger terminal-Cam Ranh International Airport by the Ministry of Transport, the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam and Vietnam Airlines Corporation. The project, divided into two phases, aims to serve eight million passengers in 2025. The first phase, already kicked off with nearly VND4,000 billion, will build about 50,500 square metres of floor and 10 gates (four check-in gates and six boarding gates).

The international passenger terminal at Cam Ranh International Airport is being carried out very rapidly, thus showing the dedication and professional competence of Cam Ranh International Terminal Joint Stock Company (CRTC) led by Board Chairman Johnathan Hanh Nguyen. With the resolution to complete the project in 18 months from the day of commencement, the project diary and the real progress surprised many people. Many exclaimed, “[we] have not seen anyone as well-arranged, serious and determined as Mr Johnathan Hanh Nguyen.”

“In this project, we have hired professional consultants to achieve three factors: Highest quality, most reasonable price and fastest progress, in order to be opened in the first quarter of 2018. I want to make the international passenger terminal at Cam Ranh International Airport a globally typical project of the Vietnamese aviation industry. I want to give this gift to Khanh Hoa province and desire to create a strong boost to the country’s socioeconomic development,” he said.

Making Nha Trang a shopping paradise
Travelling and shopping branded goods at a discount is always a desire of any traveller, especially shopping enthusiasts all over the world. Duty free shops and shopping malls are must-haves for shopping tourism. In many countries in the world, the construction of duty free shops and shopping malls at airports and in city downtowns is of great concern and appeal to tourists. In China, Japan, South Korea and Singapore, revenue from duty free shops reaches tens of billions of US dollars every year.

With his profound practical experience in running duty free shops at airports, Johnathan Hanh Nguyen said duty free shops are typical of the tourism industry. “The role of duty free shops in tourism development is enormous. Without duty free shops, it will be very difficult to attract tourists, especially shoppers. Then, they will opt for destinations with duty free shops to enjoy their shopping habits. For example, it is more interesting to go to Hong Kong and Singapore. for travelling and shopping cheaper branded goods than going to Vietnam for only sightseeing,” he said.

Vietnam in general and Nha Trang in particular have tourism advantages and they serve millions of tourists a year. However, they have not paid due attention to branding shopping tourism. At present, apart from bathing on beach and resting in resorts, visitors have little chance to buy high-grade branded goods in Nha Trang City rather than cheap local specialties. According to Johanna Hanh Nguyen, selling local products is very good and necessary but premium channels are also important to meet diverse demands of tourists.

Therefore, in building the international passenger terminal-Cam Ranh International Airport, investors have planned many duty free shops to serve tourists in the airport area. But, what he really cares more for now is how to invest in a trade centre and duty free shops in the heart of Nha Trang City to serve visitors. “Our Vietnamese do not spend much when they go on holiday, but foreigners may be willing to pay US$50,000 or even US$100,000 for tourism. [We] must enable tourists to go to the beach or rest in resorts, as well as go shopping, not only local specialties but also well-branded luxury goods in Nha Trang,” he said.

“Once supported by Khanh Hoa province, I will bring world-leading brands to Nha Trang and turn it into a shopping paradise. This is my desire and I hope that Khanh Hoa leaders will soon agree and facilitate me to quicken these projects. As more and more tourists arrive in Nha Trang every year, being late means losing opportunity and time,” Johnathan Hanh Nguyen explained.

If Khanh Hoa really wants to develop shopping tourism and build Nha Trang into a shopping paradise, no other candidates are brighter than Imex Pan Pacific Group led by Johnathan Hanh Nguyen, a senior manager of duty free shops and shopping malls with nearly 100 famous deluxe brands of the world. This is something that other investors, even with a lot of money, can hardly do.

Remarking on the future strategy, he added that he will continue to invest in some other projects in his hometown of Khanh Hoa in the coming years. As for its airport investment strategy, the international passenger terminal at Cam Ranh International Airport is being carried out assured progress and quality. Highly appreciated by central and local governments, these will be the foundation and great incentive for him to invest more in new projects when he finds the opportunity.

Quoc Hung