It has been an extraordinary three years. As the world peers out from lockdowns and movement restrictions, businesses look forward to a much-needed bounce. The same goes for the contractor management, recruitment and related industries.
Innovare saw quite a surprising resilience in the last three years. Whilst the pandemic hinders mobility, projects still needed to continue and companies found remote working an alternative. Contractors remaining in the books were retained as it was difficult to bring in new ones. This technology enabled approach enabled the services to be delivered from their existing location without travel, as we awaited the reopening of borders.
As a result, expats who have been working overseas tend to stay in the country of work while more locals are able to take on overseas’ assignments and work remotely from home country. However, as most countries are going back slowly to pre-Covid days with opening of borders and relaxation of travel restrictions, this trend may shift and more relocation is expected to take place in 2023.
Our diversified portfolio meant that some industries were given exceptional travel exemptions to continue the work especially in IT field where remote working is more common than before the pandemic. Regional diversification also allowed us to make a start in countries which chose to relax their border controls.
Hence, the business never really went to a complete halt but rather, into rotation mode.
Crops and the Japanese Connection
Innovare's absorption into Crops in 2019 (a listed company in Japan with Sales revenue over USD330 million in 2022), also meant that we started refocussing our development in Japan in both inbound and outbound movements of talent. Given the steep cultural entrenchment for many Japanese companies, trust is better built when dealing with another Japanese company
This puts Innovare in a favourable position to both facilitate outbound and inbound movements on behalf of our non- Japanese clients
With the cash reserves of Crops, there is possibility of further mergers to strengthen the group's presence in the region. We are exciting at these opportunities and will share more good news with our customers
As in past crises, we saw the industry moved into consolidation mode as the big players have acquired smaller ones in the past 2 years and those without a valid proposition might even exit the region significantly.
This led to many large groups being formed to cater to the entire value chain. For example, Velocity Global has acquired Shield GEO in July 2021 after having acquitted iWork Global in April same year. Topsource Worldwide has also acquired Compandben, Bradford Jacobs and Blue Black Global after its own merge with PEO Worldwide.
To better serve our customers, Innovare decided it would be best to further establish ourselves in the narrow space of contractor management/EOR. As specialists in the region, we are well positioned to serve our customers as well as act as a valid support for these larger conglomerates where there are gaps in their offering.
Even as we seem to be leaving the pandemic behind us, other geopolitical tensions are building up that tend to cloud any forecast. What we realize, having gone through so many challenges in the last 20 years of business (SARS, Great recession etc), is that we need to stay true to our regional calling and service delivery. Being specialists in the Asia Pac contractor management/work space has served our customers well and we will continue to fortify this position.