Business Operations

Business Operations

  • Industrial and Commercial Markets

    Issued by the International Energy Agency, the “Market Report Series: Gas 2018” forecast that global demand for natural gas will rise and China will become the world’s largest natural gas importer over the next five years as a result of the country’s economic development and policies to combat air pollution. At the same time, as industrial and commercial markets continue their boom, the industrial sector is set to take over from the power sector as the key growth driver for natural gas.

    According to the “Opinions on Promoting Multi-functional, Complementary and Optimised Demonstration Projects” jointly issued by the National Development and Reform Commission and the National Energy Administration, plans are underway for approximately 50 per cent of the new industrial parks to adopt distributed energy systems and approximately 30 per cent of existing industrial parks to improve their energy efficiency by 2020. Thus, distributed energy systems have enormous potential for growth.

    Distributed Energy

    Distributed energy systems are highly energy efficient. They generate electricity with natural gas, a clean energy source, while using the residual heat and steam produced in the process for hot water supply and other purposes. As such, the application of distributed energy systems continues to expand. Within the Group, we have been actively investing in distributed energy projects since 2015, and many industrial and commercial parks, tourist resorts and various public facilities in mainland China are now equipped with these stable energy supply systems.

    In 2018, we enhanced our investment in the distributed energy business with the launch of two new projects. One of these, located in Guilin in the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, is our first collaborative project with a biotechnology enterprise. In addition to distributed energy systems, we also harvest landfill gas generated from sewage and other waste matter, with nearly 30 per cent of the gas collected being used to produce energy. This project has realised our goal to convert waste into energy. Inaugurated last year, TCEI functions as our wholly owned comprehensive energy project investment platform in mainland China. It is principally engaged in the investment and establishment of distributed energy projects. In 2018, TCEI achieved a breakthrough with the establishment of projects in northern, eastern as well as southern China. We expect more projects to be set up in the future which will further increase our market share in this rapidly expanding sector.

    Boiler Conversion from Coal to Natural Gas

    According to the goals of National Energy Administration, China’s coal consumption proportion should be reduced to 60% in 2017 and falling further to below 58% during the "13th Five-Year Plan" period. We have thus aligned our project development strategies with the nation's coal-to-gas, clean energy and environmental policies to maintain our strong growth in the boiler conversion market.

    Furnace Conversion from Coal to Natural Gas

    The “Three-Year Action Plan to Win the Battle for a Blue Sky” endorsed by the State Council of the People’s Republic of China (the “PRC”) in 2018 reiterates the country’s determination to drive coal-to-gas conversions, as the country works to raise the proportion of natural gas within the total amount of energy consumed to reach its goal. Therefore, in 2018 we encouraged our customers to use boilers driven by natural gas instead of coal as the latter generates a higher degree of pollution, resulting in a total of 4,450 tonnes of new and modified boilers. Our coal-to-gas boiler conversion projects have contributed to the annual sale of more than 1,200 million cubic metres of gas since 2015. These conversion projects also achieved a yearon-year increase of 56 per cent in gas sales in 2018.

    Small and Medium-sized Food Outlets

    Capitalising on our forward-looking development strategies and steady gas supply, we are not only cementing our leadership in the small and medium-sized catering market, but also gaining the support of the local governments and the trust of our customers. In 2018, we gained more than 10,000 catering customers. We anticipate that the contribution of this sector to our gas sales will continue to increase with our ever-widening customer base.

    Natural Gas Water Heating System

    In terms of industrial and commercial applications, our project companies play a proactive role, not only selling natural gas to customers, but also installing water heating systems and large-scale gas dryers according to their business needs. These services served to boost our gas sales and cater to the needs of customers. For instance, in regards to commercial natural gas water heating systems, we installed over 300 water heaters for commercial customers ranging from hotels to schools to residential apartments in 2018. Prospects are highly positive and we expect to expand the range of applications even further in the coming year. Providing a more cost-effective solution for our customers, we not only install the relevant equipment or systems, but also provide after-sales services in the areas of purchase, installation, use and maintenance of the equipment.

  • Residential Market

    During the year, the gas sold to the residential market accounted for 24 per cent of our total gas sales in 2018. By the end of 2018, we have 151 customer centres across the country, with nine new centres set up during the year.

    We have promoted our “Three Courtesies” culture – manners, etiquette and politeness – since 2015, encouraging employees to be courteous and helpful at all times. As this promotion has proven to be extremely successful within the Group, we expanded the initiative in 2018, motivating our employees to promote the “Three Courtesies” outside of work, in a bid to create a happier and more harmonious community.

    The “Flying Dandelion Programme” aims to provide training for the Group’s internal trainers who will then share the Group’s quality service values with our frontline staff. By the end of 2018, a total of 43 internal trainers had participated in the programme, while a total of 134 training sessions were held for frontline staff during the year. More than 6,600 members of our team, including customer service staff, on-site inspectors, repairmen and “Three Courtesies” Smiling Service Ambassadors attended these sessions, thereby improving our overall service standards.

  • Bauhinia Gas Appliances

    Bauhinia Gas Appliances

    Bauhinia stands for stringent product quality. The brand caters for the increasing product and service expectations of customers, which is particularly relevant in view of the rising household consumption standards in mainland China. The products under the brand are also highly innovative, as we seek to deliver more intelligent, comfortable and practical features to better meet customers' needs. We also strive to improve our after-sale systems and service competencies, and are determined to offer premium products and services to customers.

    Gas Dryers

    Ever since our expansion into the mainland market, we have been known for our stringent quality control and product safety. Building on this sterling reputation as well as our broad residential customer base, we launched our proprietary gas appliance brand, Bauhinia, in 2005, with a variety of gas appliance products. Since then, we have won a significant share of the downstream gas appliance market, in addition to benefitting from expanding commercial opportunities. Over the past 13 years, Bauhinia has built a reputation as both a quality and leading brand, with a comprehensive catalogue of products ranging from gas heating appliances and cooking stoves to gas dryers, as we cater to customers’ various needs. With growing consumption and improvements in the quality of life in mainland China, Bauhinia sold more than 13,000 gas dryers in 2018, representing a year-on-year increase of 70 per cent. Bauhinia’s gas dryers have four major advantages: they dry laundry efficiently, can handle large volumes, and are extremely hygienic and gentle on fabric.

    Gas Heating Appliances

    Benefitting from the country’s new energy and environmental protection policies, residential heating systems are increasingly commonplace, bringing further growth momentum to the residential market. A total of 18,900 combi boiler units were sold in 2018, representing a year-on-year increase of 26 per cent. During the year, Bauhinia also launched four fashionable premix condensing heating appliances which can fully utilise the heat and potential heat released from the condensation of steam and flue gas to avoid wastage resulting from heat loss. The new product can cover a heating area of up to 280 square metres, satisfying the needs of customers with various home sizes.

    The Group encouraged our project companies to expand group-buying markets. To this end, we developed and published the "Technical Manual for Design and Installation of Bauhinia Heating Systems" during the year to guide the design and installation training of these heating systems in eastern, southwestern, northern and northeastern China.

    After-sales Services

    Quality after-sales service is the cornerstone of a brand's sustainability. Since inception, we have been committed to providing "three-year warranty and life-long maintenance" service for all Bauhinia products.

    To continuously improve service skills and the competencies of our after-sales teams, we hold the nationwide "Bauhinia After-sales Service Skills Competition" every year to motivate their learning and enhance their training.

  • Extended Services

    Towngas Lifestyle

    As a professional internet company within the Group, Towngas Lifestyle provides cloud service solutions for companies, building a reliable e-service platform. Towngas Lifestyle provides our customers with convenient and efficient internet and mobile operating platforms as well as one-stop comprehensive e-services offering kitchenware, eco-friendly food, gas insurance, gas detecting and alarm, among a host of other products and services.

    We set up kitchenware zones in our customer centres in various cities and offered a variety of some 3,000 items in the relevant product catalogues of WeChat Mall. Customers were thus able to gain easy access to our vast range of premium cookware from around all over the world. They can make either physical purchases or simply scan a QR code to submit their orders, enjoying more personalised and convenient shopping experience.

    Virtual Customer Centre (VCC) Platform

    The upgrade of our VCC platform in 2017 as well as the addition of 18 project companies has resulted in a great improvement in our efficiency as well as a reduction in operation costs. In 2018, the number of project companies making use of this VCC platform continued to rise, with 18 additional enterprises offering this platform. By the end of 2018, the platform had over 5 million users and more than 1.3 million registered users. Online payments and credit refill transactions made by customers on the platform amounted to over RMB250 million. This figure not only marks the high level of traffic on the platform, it also denotes a growing trend as the platform increasingly becomes a major channel for our customers to manage their gas services.

    Towngas Lifestyle Card

    The Group introduced a membership card exclusively for its gas users. It is designed to combine online and offline customer experience via the VCC's membership scheme to build stronger customer relations.

    Gas Insurance Business

    We teamed up with Ping An Property & Casualty Insurance Company of China and the Huatai Insurance Group to launch home insurance for residential customers. Thanks to its low premium costs, which nevertheless offers comprehensive coverage to gas users, the service was well-received by customers. The gas insurance business has been extended to 45 city gas projects and further expanded into industrial and commercial markets in Mianyang, Changchun and Jianyang.

    Mia Cucina

    Mia Cucina, our high-end kitchen cabinet brand known for its exquisite craftsmanship of Hong Kong design and quality standards, aims to offer mainland customers elegant, ergonomic and fashionable cabinets using stringently-selected materials and accessories imported from Europe. The brand repositioned its promotional strategy during the year to focus on furnished apartment market. The brand also expanded its retail sales by showcasing Mia Cucina cabinets at our customer centres in a number of cities to provide discerning customers with modern and stylish Total Kitchen Solutions.