Businesses look to cash in on royal visit to Singapore

A lone aeroplane engine stands centre stage covered in plastic and waiting to be unwrapped.

Workers around it are setting up a podium and re-painting the stage wall just the right shade of blue, in readiness for a royal visit.

This is the $562m (£350m) Rolls-Royce aeronautical production facility which opened earlier this year in Singapore, and the engine, a Trent 900 Aero, is destined for an Airbus A380 plane.

On Wednesday, its plastic covers will be unwrapped as the engine is unveiled by Prince William, who is in town with his wife Catherine on a tour of Singapore, Malaysia and the Solomon Islands.

Jonathan Asherson, the head of Rolls-Royce's South East Asian operations, says their visit will bring a number of benefits.

"The tangible benefits to the visit will include things like the buzz that the employees will feel, and the partnership between Singapore and the UK," he tells the BBC.

"The Duke and Duchess will be launching the first production engine and the first production fan blades from this facility.

"Intangible benefits are things like the coverage we get, those benefits are going to be for our own internal buzz, but we're hoping our customers will notice this as well," he adds. Flower power

The Duke and Duchess are touring the region to celebrate the Queen's Diamond Jubilee.

According to the British High Commission in Singapore, the visit to the city was included in their trip as it's seen as an important trading partner of the United Kingdom.

They will be meeting key Singapore and British business leaders during their trip.

Some $40bn is invested in Singapore by UK businesses while the UK attracts two-thirds of Singapore's foreign direct investment into Europe.

One of the first stops on their tour saw them visiting the nation's Orchid Gardens on Tuesday where they had an orchid named after them.

The gardens, set within the larger botanical gardens, charge for entry and are 70% self-funded.

They have been naming hybrid orchids, created by their horticulturists, after famous people since 1957.

According to Nigel Taylor the director of the Singapore Botanic Gardens, there is almost always an uptick in visitors after an orchid is named after a well known person.

"There's clearly a marketing effect that benefits Singapore and the gardens," he says.

"There's also a more immediate local effect, for some of the locals who haven't visited the orchid gardens for a while, they may be reminded that it exists and that it's an opportunity they shouldn't miss out on.

"When someone like the Duke and Duchess come to visit, which is something that happens very rarely... the quid pro quo is definitely the publicity we get." Brand effect

The British monarchy is a very valuable brand.

One study published before the Queen's jubilee celebrations in June, found that this value amounted to $70bn.

But more than half of that is intangible. Rather than creating value by producing goods, the monarchy's brand value lies in association.

Samir Dixit from Brand Finance who carried out the research, says the British monarchy is the world's second most valuable brand after Apple, with Apple valued just slightly higher at $70.6bn.

The firm has measured the value of the Royal Family in part by looking at companies who have been issued Royal warrants and coats of arms.

Royal warrants have been issued for centuries for goods or services that are supplied to the sovereign or to a member of the royal family.

These, according to Brand Finance, have made those brands associated to the Royal Family more successful. Local interest

And it is this brand value that some local firms are keen to cash in on.

Art Trove, a Singapore art gallery is celebrating the Queen's jubilee by selling lithographs of watercolour paintings by Prince Charles and other art pieces as well as photographs of the Royal Family.

These include pictures of Prince William as a child with his late mother, Princess Diana.

Also on offer is a $200,000 diamond encrusted gold medallion made by the East India Company for the Queen's jubilee. The gallery says it has already sold its other silver version worth $40,000 to an Asian collector.

The entire collection for sale is worth nearly one million dollars.

Sharon Tay, a consultant at the gallery, thinks that interest in the exhibition, which has been running since last month, will pick up with the Duke and Duchess' visit to Singapore.

The St. Regis in Singapore, part of the US Starwood chain of hotels, is also hoping the visit will help push sales for their themed dinners and activities.

The hotel has planned a month long tribute to British culture and the arts which includes hiring a Michelin starred Welsh chef to cook $200 per head meals and a tie up with the Royal Academy of Arts with an exhibiiton by British artist Paul Huxley.

Cheryl Ong, the hotel's director of sales and marketing, says that even though the events were not planned to coincide with the Royal trip, it was "very serendipitous timing".

"We have seen keen interest from our guests and members of the public, with reservations coming in steadily for the British Arts Celebration culinary showcases," she adds.

For local and multinational companies alike, the consensus is that even though they might not see an immediate pick-up in business during the short visit of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, the effects of it will be evident in higher sales after they leave.

Then it won't just be the monarchy having a diamond year.


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