China development officials smile on Royal Caribbean-Cintas Pact

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Royal Caribbean International’s latest business expansion in China took place on the mainland, even as it prepares its third and newest Quantum-Class ship to begin serving that market in the spring.

In a move intended both to service its own expansion in the Chinese market and to benefit the Chinese economy, Royal Caribbean inked a new three-year contract with U.S.-based Cintas to produce, provide and maintain employee uniforms across the fleet.

Specifically, the Tianjin Economic-Technological Development Area, or TEDA, issued a letter of endorsement to Cintas for the contract’s support of the Chinese economy. TEDA officials attended the contract signing on Dec. 14 during a visit to Los Angeles.

“Cintas refocused their efforts on sourcing from factories in China, and they’re increasing their production there,” Lisa Ghai, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. manager of hotel procurement, says of the multimillion-dollar deal. “At the same time, we’re able to offer our internal customers significant savings on some of their highest volume items, so it was a win-win.”

Mike Jones, RCL global supply chain officer, says the new sourcing deal had its beginnings early last year, when the line’s board of directors expressed interest in developing more partnerships in China to demonstrate its commitment to the region, beyond basing more ships there.

“As part of that request, the executive committee asked supply chain to go out and identify several key partnerships that have an impact on employment and what we spend there, and would be recognized by the government as a contribution to the overall economy,” Jones explains.

Royal Caribbean raised its own profile in Tianjin during 2014 when it entered a strategic partnership with the state-owned Tianjin Maritime College and opened the Cruise Talent Development Centre to train new shipboard employees.

The brand new Quantum-Class ship Ovation of the Seas is scheduled to launch in April and homeport in Tianjin.