Royal jelly maker in Far East joint venture

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The Independent Online
THE MAKERS of Regina royal jelly and Tiger Balm unguent, two staples of alternative health fanatics, have joined forces to distribute the bee product in the Far East and introduce traditional Chinese potions to the West.

The new corporate concoction, Regina Haw Par (Asia), is a 50-50 joint venture between Regina of Britain and Tiger Medicals, an arm of Haw Par Brothers International, which is listed on the Hong Kong and Singapore stock exchanges.

Regina, whose yellow capsules have reportedly invigorated Barbara Cartland, Mikhail Gorbachev and the Queen's corgis, recently signed an exclusive deal with a Japanese distributor and now wants to boost sales in the rest of the Far East.

The venture will market and distribute Regina's products in Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines and other Far Eastern countries as well as in Australasia.

Regina's chairman and chief executive, Shiraz Malik-Noor, said he hoped that the venture would greatly increase the pounds 200,000 of products Regina now sold in the region.

He believes that its strong branding will do well against local 'cottage industry' rivals.

The venture will also take traditional Chinese herbal products and introduce strong branding to them to sell them in the West. One example may be tong quai, or Chinese angelica, which some Chinese believe alleviate menstrual and menopausal problems.

Regina, once the darling of the Unlisted Securities Market, has more recently traded as a high- risk penny stock. But yesterday's news was enough to lift the shares 1/2 p to 2 1/4 p.

In June it announced pre-tax losses of pounds 457,000 for the six months to 29 February, hit by heavy start-up costs in the US and falling sales in the UK in the wake of a Consumers' Association report that royal jelly was 'no better a source of nutrients than cornflakes'.

Mr Malik-Noor, who took over at Regina in December 1990, said: 'It is very much our intention to research and develop traditional Chinese products and bring them to the West.

'There is an opportunity to deal with their products in the same way Regina has dealt with royal jelly.'

Dr Hong Hai, chief executive of Haw Par and Tiger Medicals, said: 'The Regina brand is the market leader in Singapore and we intend to extend this dominance throughout the Asia Pacific region.'