Eu Yan Sang International was established as a herbalist shop, offering remedies to tin mine workers in Malaysia in 1879 and opened its first shop in Hong Kong in 1904, helping to make the city an international hub of traditional Chinese medicine. The company considered relocating its manufacturing base to the mainland in the early 1990s, but eventually decided to remain in Hong Kong. 'The workers in Hong Kong are more disciplined, more committed and more enthusiastic compared with those in the mainland,' said Alice Wong Suet-ying, managing director of Eu Yan Sang (Hong Kong). Eu Yan Sang International, winner of the International Investor of the Year Award, is listed on the Singapore Stock Exchange and exports products to North America, Australia and Europe. Scientific study of this herbal tradition has flourished since 1997 and since then many universities established programmes to study Chinese medicine and their academic work has received recognition worldwide. The company has invested more than HK$110 million to acquire land and build and equip its four-storey manufacturing, research and logistics centre, with a total floor area of 130,000 sqft, in the Yuen Long Industrial Estate. The centre, in operation since last November, has technologically advanced manufacturing systems that meet the standard set by the Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) of the Therapeutic Goods Administration of Australia. It also received the GMP Certificate for Manufacturers (Proprietary Chinese Medicines) from the Chinese Medicines Traders Committee of Hong Kong. GMP covers the processing of raw herbs, dust-free production, and packaging. Eu Yan Sang is the first traditional Chinese medicine manufacturer to apply both GMP and ISO certification to its full production line. 'This is part of our catalyst project,' Ms Wong said. 'We provide quality assurance for our end-products through the application of GMP and ISO. This is our social responsibility.' Eu Yan Sang has transferred the making of some branded products, such as bottled bird's nest, from other countries to its Yuen Long facilities and the company will make more of its products in Hong Kong. The firm's extraction plant and advanced technology ensure top-quality Chinese medicine. 'Extraction is essential to retaining the medicinal components [in the raw herbs]. Many companies omit this process. [By doing it in-house] we aim to preserve our heritage of Chinese medicine production. 'With our in-house extraction facilities, we are able to control the entire [production] process from raw materials to the end-products by conducting quality tests of the raw materials imported from China,' Ms Wong said. Eu Yan Sang has pioneered the application of 'fingerprinting' when testing proprietary traditional Chinese medicines by using modern computer technology to create a top-notch quality control system. The company has increased the number of retail outlets in Hong Kong to more than 40 from three in 1997 to develop its brand. It has also substantially increased its workforce in Hong Kong to more than 300. 'We only employ Hong Kong locals,' Ms Wong said. 'We have hired professionals who have graduated from major universities in Hong Kong, such as the University of Science and Technology and Chinese University.' Eu Yan Sang had committed substantial financial and technical support for many research and development projects by universities and public hospitals, including the Tung Wah Group of Hospitals, Ms Wong said. The company supported the anti-flu and Bak Foong Pills bio-active research projects of the Chinese University and was committed to sponsor the university's ground-breaking study of the efficacy of traditional Chinese medicine to treat Parkinson's disease with a HK$2 million donation.