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Vol 5 No 2 2017


ManagePay Systems Bhd Group Managing Director & CEO Dato’ Chew Chee Seng

MRCA Turns 25 CEO Night Teaser

WM RM9 / EM RM11

A Masterclass In Transformation


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6 New MPay MRCA MasterCard Prepaid Card A Boon For Retailers

Dato’ Chew Chee Seng shares the company’s latest e-payment system that is aimed at merchants in the retail industry.

FEATURES 12 Malaysia Launches World’s First Digital Free Trade Zone


DFTZ is expected to increase overall goods export by US$25 billion, and create 60,000 jobs by 2025.

14 A Masterclass In Transformation

Alibaba’s maverick founder and executive chairman Jack Ma dishes out entrepreneurial advice at the Global Transformation Forum 2017.

15 Alipay To Step It Up In Southeast Asia

ManagePay Systems Bhd Group Managing Director and CEO Dato’ Chew Chee Seng Photography: Song @Picture This Studio

Malaysia Retailer Vol 4 No 1

China’s giantkiller has made significant investments in e-payment services and online marketplace in the region.

16 MRCA Turns 25

What started as a way to strengthen the country’s retail industry in the 1990s, the revered association is now a driving force in nation-building.

18 Leaders of MRCA

In conjunction with the association’s 25th anniversary, MRCA’s President Council has some inspiring words to share.

19 Long-time MRCA Members

Some congratulatory notes from some of MRCA’s oldest members to celebrate the association’s 25th anniversary.

20 Exciting Times at MIRF 2017

As the MIRF 2017 draws closer, participants, trade visitors and exhibitors have a lot to look forward to.

22 A Delegation To Taiwan

MRCA with its President and members paid an enriching visit to the Taipei International Chain and Franchise Spring Exhibition in March 2017.

24 MRCA Retail Conference 2017

The association will be hosting more than 20 industry leaders sharing their outlook on the ever-growing business landscape.

26 Man of Steel

The highly anticipated annual CEO Night is proud to have Tan Sri A K Nathan as the keynote speaker in May.

22 28 18 Years Of Fine Thai Cuisine

Imperial Chakri Palace celebrates its 18th year in business at its flagship outlet at Suria KLCC.

30 Sought-After Retail Destination – Kuala Lumpur

Earning the 11th spot, the Malaysian capital city is one of the world’s fastest growing retail destination.

32 True Understanding Of Consumer Sentiments

Suria KLCC Sdn Bhd Executive Director and CEO Andrew Brien shares some of his business strategies in ensuring the mall continues to outperform expectations.

34 Sunway Velocity Mall, KL

South’s Urban Hub For Grub

With more than 25% of retail space for food, the mall is the new foodie central for comfort food, gourmet fare, fine dining and more.

58 46 Insights Into Retail Trends

48 MIFB Engages Media Practitioners

Pavilion Elite

Kuala Lumpur’s luxury mall now houses Bonia, Sanoook and Tealive.

Retail Group Malaysia releases a sales outlook based on the industry’s performance in 2016.

CNY Celebration

The 2017 annual general meeting recorded the highest turnout and membership to date.

44 Unique Retail Experience In Serenia City

Horizon Group Properties in the US is bringing its brand of outlet malls to Southeast Asia.

KK Group of Companies’ charity carnival brings smiles to the underprivileged.

53 Discount Card for FT folks

EVENTS 62 MRCA Celebrates CNY By Helping Others

66 MRCA Brings CNY Cheer To Needy Folks

68 MRCA Pays A Visit To Fusionex


Loob Holding Takes Tea-Brewing To New Heights

70 Seminar On Staff Motivation


54 How to Retain Loyal Employees

MRCA President Shares Property Investment Tips Budget 2017 & Finance Bill Talk

56 Communicative Leaders

Update On Social Media Trends Bina Puri Celebrates CNY with YYC

Low income families get Ceria card to qualify for discounts from 220 vendors.

High attrition rates are disruptive to any business as the training process of new employees is expensive and timeconsuming.


Importance of leaders with great communication skills.


58 What Every Business Owner

President’s Message

42 MRCA’s 2017 AGM

McMillan Woods Malaysia’s Managing Partner Dato’ Seri Raymond Liew shares his views on the role of an auditor to a business.

52 KK Mart’s Annual Bukit Bintang

38 Retail Industry 2016 Overview

Malaysian media gets a sneak peek of leading F&B trade expo.

50 Importance Of An Audit

36 MRCA Members At

Organised by StrongPoint Asia, the region’s inaugural Retail Agenda Forum sheds light on the current retail and economy landscape.

Should Know About Feng Shui

Influences of feng shui to ensure business success.

60 One “Belt and Road” to World

Harmony – China Paves the Way

5 73 Member Updates

75 Event Calendar

76 MRCA In The News

Malaysia Retailer Vol 4 No 1

MRCA Corporate Patrons


4 Is published by

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All articles featured in Malaysia Retailer magazine represent the personal views of contributors and are not necessarily those of MRCA & Harini Management Services Sdn Bhd. All writers automatically agree to indemnify MRCA and Harini Management Services Sdn Bhd against any loss, costs, expenses (including legal fees), damages and liabilities that might arise from their own incapacity, negligence, breach of contract or other civil misdeeds. We reserve the right to edit all articles. All rights reserved. Copyright © 2017 by MRCA and Harini Management Services Sdn Bhd. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form without prior written permission from the publisher. MRCA and Harini Management Services Sdn Bhd accept no responsibility for unsolicited manuscripts, photography, illustration and other editorial materials.

CORRECTION In our Vol. 5 No. 1 issue, we mistakenly identified Dennis Tan as MRCA’s panel lawyer in the article “Franchising Your Business”. He is not the association’s panel lawyer. We deeply regret the mistake and the inconvenience that it had brought about.

5 President’s Message

President’s Message Dear MRCA members,

Dato’ Garry KS Chua, President, 2016-Present, Malaysia Retail Chain Association

I’m very happy to announce that 2017 is our association’s 25th anniversary. In terms of wedding anniversaries, this is the time to present gifts in silver. In our case, we have planned for sparkling celebrations throughout the year, and not forgetting to do better in the duties entrusted to the MRCA. Also up to this point, MRCA has recorded the highest membership in 25 years. Together with our members, new and old, we have plenty of activities lined up, including the MIRF 2017, the Retail Conference, CEO Night, overseas missions, networking meetings and charity outreach programmes. I’m proud to say that we are working harder than ever to burnish MRCA’s standing in Malaysia. With MRCA’s strong foundation and active role, we can continue our robust engagement with the various ministries such as the Domestic Trade Co-operatives and Consumerism, Tourism, Finance and International Trade and Industries as well as Government agencies such as MATRADE, PEMANDU and so on. Being in constant contact with these parties, we can exchange ideas, views and resources to further develop the retail and franchise industry as we head toward the Fourth Industrial Revolution. It is vital for MRCA to stay on top of fiscal policies, regulation and current trends to provide our members with the latest insights. From our magazine, I hope our members will be able to glean important information to help them navigate the ever growing business landscape. Alibaba Founder Jack Ma, who spoke recently at the Global Transformation Forum 2017, also has wonderful advice to give. We have compiled snippets of his speech so we can all learn from his experience and vision of the future. The much awaited CEO Night is scheduled in May where the guest of honour is Tan Sri A. K. Nathan who will share his success story and the challenges he faced in turning his modest company into one of the world’s leading integrated structural steel turnkey contractors. Two other exciting events, our 25th Anniversary Dinner and Media Appreciation events, are also scheduled for the year. Don’t miss these signature events. As retailer and franchise business owners, we can no longer sit on our laurels. We need to continuously enrich ourselves with knowledge from the people who are successful in the global arena. In March, we led a delegation to Taiwan for the Taipei International Chain and Franchise Spring Exhibition. The team also visited two leading Taiwanese companies. In April, we are planning a trade mission to Cambodia and Vietnam and we encourage members to join us on this business trip. Lastly, I would like to announce that MRCA’s vision this year is to acquire our own building, which is originally mooted by our Founder President Dato’ Eddie Choon, 25 years ago. Details will be revealed soon, so stay tuned. I would also like to wish everybody a happy Labour Day and Selamat Berpuasa as Ramadan draws near.


Malaysia Retailer Vol 5 No 2

Cover Story



By Debbie Loh Photography Song@ Picture This

Malaysia Retailer Vol 5 No 2

Going cashless is a way of the future, believes ManagePay Systems Berhad (MPay), a leader in end-to-end financial technology in Malaysia. Its Group Managing Director and CEO Dato' Chew Chee Seng shares the company's latest e-payment system that is aimed at merchants in the retail industry, bringing added value to their business and helping them embrace new financial technology.

The launch of the MPay MRCA Ringgit Rewards MasterCard Prepaid Card.

rends in the world of financial technology (fintech) today are birthing many transformational business opportunities. Amongst other, omni channel retail – where consumers buy from various channels, be it at retail websites, brick and mortar stores or through social media – is creating the need for omni channel payments. Social connectivity, big data analytics and the explosion of affinity and loyalty programmes are driving higher quantity of purchase into the online arena, where payment methods are continuously evolving to ensure a secure and easy payment mode for consumers. For MPay, the global technology trends have energised its metamorphosis into a company that is able to provide solutions that address needs for omni channel payments. Its full e-Money License with virtual account (Mobile Wallet) gives MPay an edge, and allowing it to operate in a similar vein as a financial services provider, to act as a card scheme issuer, and also to provide affinity programmes – in this case to the Malaysian Retail Chain Association (MRCA), the MPay MRCA Ringgit Rewards MasterCard Prepaid Card. Retailers can benefit immensely from big data analytics on consumer spending patterns across a broad range of merchant categories, once the MPay


MRCA Ringgit Rewards MasterCard Prepaid Card, which will be launched by mid-year, is widely adopted. Such data is a gold mine of information as it captures spending habits more accurately with a single card compared to consumer information collected by banks from credit or debit card usage, which tend to be narrow, given that customers often use more than one credit or debit card. "This is how the co-branded Ringgit Rewards card can benefit the entire retail industry in Malaysia," said MPay Group Managing Director and CEO Dato’ Chew Chee Seng. MPay’s collaboration with MRCA will be a breakthrough for the association and its more than 350 members, as it does not, as yet, have a comprehensive database of all its members’ customers, he added. “The Ringgit Rewards Card will work like any co-branded payment card. Each association member can distribute the cards to their customers and MPay will capture sales transaction data whenever the cards are used to make a purchase in their outlets. MPay will be able to analyse these data collected at any given time frame and produce an insightful retail report to the participating members. “In essence, everyone enjoys a good buy or save money on items they need and want. Participating member can offer promotion or bargains to MPay MRCA Ringgit Rewards cardholders. “When cardholders use their card to spend at members’ outlets, MPay can track and store purchase information that can be used to keep track of the participating members’ customer base’s wants and needs. We can assist the members analyse and determine what products their customers are buying most often, what time of the day most people shop, and even on what day of the week the most customers are visiting certain stores.” Using this information, members can anticipate future inventory and staffing needs as well as determine on what days of the week to introduce new inventory or run sales. Members can also determine what coupons to make available to all cardholders directly through the MPay MRCA Ringgit Rewards programme. Each member can also use the information to provide a

Malaysia Retailer Vol 5 No 2

Cover Story


Cover Story

8 better shopping experience by bundling products and promotions to increase sales on generally low volume days of the week. Most importantly, the data collected can be cross retail segments in the MRCA context. The Ringgit Rewards card’s system is meant to benefit all MRCA members and will be most effective if all association members get on board, along with their customers. MRCA’s retail chain operators and franchisors cover more than 20,000 outlets across Malaysia. “Imagine, if each retail member participates, you can capture data from a mixed range of retail categories and the MPay MRCA Ringgit Rewards card becomes very meaningful. It’s the sort of data which banks have but don’t share with you. “The data collected via this card programme will cover an even broader spectrum of consumer habits compare to banks who usually only able to capture data for a particular segment because consumers generally will keep a few cards which offer different type of privileges of certain retail segments. As such, MRCA Ringgit Rewards card will be invaluable information for the retail industry in general, and MRCA in particular,” said Dato' Chew. He gave assurance that none of this will contravene the Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA). The personal

“MPay’s collaboration with the Malaysian Retail Chain Association (MRCA) will be a breakthrough for the association and its more than 290 members, as it does not, as yet, have a comprehensive database of its members’ customers.”

Here’s a look at some of the company’s licences and products:


E-PAYMENT SYSTEM MPay received a notification of compliance from Bank Negara Malaysia in January 2013 to operate its MPay e-Payment systems. This allowed MPay to own direct business relationships with merchants, facilitate merchants’ ability to accept credit, debit, loyalty and stored-value cards.

• MPAY E-MONEY In February 2015, MPay received a letter of approval from Bank Negara for the issuance of e-money Designated Malaysia Retailer Vol 5 No 2

data captured on cardholders’ names and accounts will not be shared; instead, MPay will only analyse and share big data, such as information on demographics, age, geographic area, gender and shopping interests. “We won’t give individual transaction details to MRCA members. Under the PDPA, only certain organisations such as Bank Negara Malaysia and MasterCard have the right to access this data. As the card issuer, we have the right to acquire and store it but we cannot share it with others,” he said. The MPay MRCA Ringgit Rewards Card’s official launch is expected in June or July this year. Meanwhile, MPay is developing sales kits and early adoption packages, and is busy promoting the product to MRCA members. “Early adopters will have the card terminals installed for free and also get a discount on the cards, which they can either bundle as a free gift for their customers or sell at low cost to customers. Once the programme becomes more popular, we expect to sell the product to retailers at a higher price to recover our investment,” Dato' Chew said. The agreement on the Ringgit Rewards Card programme was signed between MPay and MRCA in June last year and Chew praised MRCA for having the foresight to understand the need to obtain more comprehensive consumer data for the retail industry.

Payment Instrument through its products the MPay Balance Virtual Account (digital money) and the MPay MasterCard. This is a deposit taking licence which requires MPay to develop stringent standard operating procedures and in-house processes to ensure compliance with regulatory requirements.


PREPAID CARD Launched in July 2016, the co-branded card can be used to receive salaries and pay bills, as well as for transactions such as purchases, remittances, telco prepaid reloads and for ATM withdrawals through MasterCard Networks. It is also accepted at millions of retail stores,

Cover Story


MPay Pro launched by the Prime Minister Dato' Sri Najib Razak.

POISED FOR THE FUTURE For MPay, this collaboration with MRCA is also part of the public listed company’s efforts to tap into new markets after changing directions four years ago from its original focus on merchant acquiring business to fintech business. MPay was formed in 2000 with a mission to help small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to compete with bigger players by using technology to level the playing field, Dato' Chew said. Starting out in merchant acquiring to facilitate credit card payments, the company developed e-payment system and other relevant components required, such as credit card terminals, point-of-sale (POS) systems for both online and physical retail, and connecting terminals to the banks. Since its early days, he said MPay already believed Internet and mobile

which accept the MasterCard worldwide, making it ideal to use while travelling. The card can store a maximum of RM10,000 at any one time and its balance can be tracked through the MPay Wallet app. Its potential customers include those without bank accounts, foreign workers, students and any underbanked customer, as its prepaid facility only requires the cardholder to register with a valid identity card or passport.


MARKETPLACE MPay was granted a market operator license for peer-to-peer (P2P) financing by the Securities Commission in November 2016. The online P2P

The launch of MPay Pro was well received.

technology would someday converge to change the way retail transactions would be done, and over time, “this has become a reality”. The company transitioned into becoming a fintech player after deciding to acquire its own operating licences and to build its own solutions for the markets it wanted to tap. “The Internet gave rise to e-commerce and e-payments, where you have to solve logistics and security issues. One can buy anything from anywhere in the world now, and with mobile technology and faster data speeds, shopping is done in the palm of your hand.” Today, MPay has a range of endto-end fintech solutions for banks, financial institutions, merchants and card issuers in Malaysia. Dato' Chew said it has been able to do so with success because of the company’s

expertise and long familiarity with the industry and regulators more than 17 years since its inception, and this has helped MPay comply with and obtain the necessary licenses. MPay is now an established endto-end payment and fintech solutions and service provider. With its suite of simple yet comprehensive solutions, the company is a complete solution provider that customers can trust to meet all their payment needs. In the new era where technology for the finance sector is advancing forcefully, MPay’s objective is to accelerate growth, together with strategic partners, by creating first mover capabilities that will enable it to capture new business opportunities arising from payment innovation in the fintech space. Currently, MPay is listed on the ACE Market of Bursa Malaysia with market capitalisation in excess of RM150 million.

platform matches lenders with borrowers. With this, Malaysia became the first country in ASEAN to regulate P2P lending.

phone reloads, online purchases and more, can be conducted.

• THE MPAY WALLET The e-money approval enabled MPay to offer the MPay Wallet, a virtual wallet with wallet size of RM10,000, where e-money and cards can be stored on a smart mobile device for convenience. Payments can be made using QR code and a host of transactions, include but not limited to third party transfers, mobile


TERMINAL MPay Pro is a smartphone, tablet or dedicated wireless device that performs the functions of a cash register or electronic point of sale terminal. MPay Pro accepts payments using credit, debit and prepaid cards using EMV complied mobile PinPad via Bluetooth connection.


SALE SOLUTIONS ECPOS is a compact point of sales (POS) solution which is designed to cater point of service businesses and retail outlets. The solution comes with a PinPad for

Malaysia Retailer Vol 5 No 2

Cover Story


VALUE-ADD FOR RETAILERS With its long experience in developing solutions, the company’s offering to retailers with the MPay MRCA Ringgit Rewards Card is added value because of its technologies in merchant aggregation and data analytics that yield retail insights. For consumers, meanwhile, the benefits come in the form of cash back. “With this one card, consumers can enjoy benefits across a spectrum of retailers under MRCA, unlike with credit cards where benefits are enjoyed by selected retailers only. “So long as MRCA members offer better if not equal the deals offered by the banks’ credit cards, consumers will want to use the Ringgit Rewards Card. The card can accumulate cash back across all participating retailers. Even if it’s just a small percentage of cash back out of the total spending in a year, it is still savings for the customer,” Dato' Chew said. Another plus for the cardholder is the prepaid nature of the MPay MRCA co-branded MasterCard Prepaid card, which offers flexibility, convenience and also prevention against overspending. "From a consumer's point of view," said Dato' Chew, "it is a card that is within everyone’s reach, as long as they register with a valid identity card. The card can also be easily topped up on

QuicKash P2P licence award ceremony with the Securities Commission Chairman and Second Minister of Finance.

the go using the MPay Wallet, a virtual wallet that stores e-money and very soon via ATM and CDM (cash deposit machine) of one of the largest bank in Malaysia. For foreigners who wish to have the card, a copy of valid passport is needed." Dato' Chew sees the MPay MRCA Ringgit Rewards Card as a product for retailers that is part of technology’s onward march towards cashless spending by enabling wider adoption among merchants, along with valueadded benefits in the form of retail insights and data. “Malaysia is not behind in fintech development. In fact, we are driving the trend in the ASEAN region in terms of adopting new ideas and technology. We have the solutions and infrastructure. “But when it comes to cashless spending beyond conventional credit cards, it is about mindset change among

cardholders and retailers. Merchants need awareness and education to understand the benefits of e-payments, while consumers can not only feel more secure by carrying less cash, but also audit and control their spending.” Since venturing into the fintech industry in 2012, MPay has developed a stable of products in end-to-end e-payment solutions for banks, financial institutions, merchants and card issuers in Malaysia. Along with these developments come the endorsements from regulatory authorities that are needed to ensure the highest standards of safety and security in transactions and financial information. These achievements mark MPay’s success as a fintech solutions and service provider, and positions it for new business opportunities as Internet and mobile technologies continue to change the marketplace.

credit and debit card acceptance, built in cash drawer, anti-roll thermal receipt printer, barcode scanner, mobile tablet and software. ECPOS can be customise for table top ordering, counter top sales and also in Android POS handheld terminal carried by waiters to take orders and collect chip-and-pin card payment from sitting customers. It can also be synchronised across multiple stores and enables sales reporting to manage sales on the go from any place, anytime.

logistic partners perform first-mile and last-mile delivery for corporations, companies, businesses and individuals. Most importantly, it empowers traditional retailers as well as e-tailers to sell any products and services via Mail Order Telephone Order (MOTO) or eCommerce or mCommerce or Mobile Apps but only to collect payment upon delivery; a service commonly called Card Collection on Delivery (CCOD) payment services.

one of them can request quotations, raise purchase orders, produce invoices and make payments, all done electronically. MDEX is supported by the Government through the Multimedia Development Corp (MDEC) and SME Corporation Malaysia (SMECORP).


Malaysia Digital Enterprise Exchange (MDEX) platform is for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to conduct business online. The portal has a web directory of digital enterprises where each and every

PARCEL DELIVERY SERVICES ParcelPay is a 4th Party Logistics parcel delivery service that is transacted via smart devices or desktop. ParcelPay’s

Malaysia Retailer Vol 5 No 2


• BUYMALAYSIA ONLINE WHOLESALE B2B2C ECOMMERCE MARKETPLACE BuyMalaysia is a business to business to consumer (B2B2C) wholesale e-commerce platform where authentic Malaysia products can be bought from anywhere of the world. BuyMalaysia is hosted on a safe and secure platform so buyer is assured that products purchased from BuyMalaysia are genuine and guaranteed.

Cover Story


Malaysia Retailer Vol 5 No 2



Malaysia Launches World’s First Digital Free Trade Zone DFTZ is expected to double the growth rate of Malaysian SMEs, increase overall goods export by US$25 billion, and create 60,000 jobs by 2025.

From left: Dato’ Yasmin Mahmood, CEO, Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) and Daniel Zhang, CEO, Alibaba Group.

alaysian Prime Minister Dato’ Sri Najib Razak together with Jack Ma, founder and Executive Chairman of Alibaba Group, launched the world’s first Digital Free Trade Zone (DFTZ) in March. The initiative will provide physical and virtual zones to facilitate SMEs to capitalise on the convergence of exponential growth of the internet economy and cross-border e-commerce activities. It will act as a microcosm to support internet companies to trade goods, provide services, innovate and co-create solutions. DFTZ will be a boost to Malaysia’s e-commerce roadmap that was introduced in 2016, which aims to double the nation’s e-commerce growth and increase the GDP contribution to


Malaysia Retailer Vol 5 No 2

From left: Dato’ Sri Najib Razak and Jack Ma, Founder and Executive Chairman of Alibaba Group.

RM211 billion (approximately US$47.68 billion) by year 2020. “Malaysians have embraced the internet economy and e-commerce in a big way. We are now leading the e-commerce market in the region generating revenue of US$2.3billion in 2015. “With the launch of the world’s first Digital Free Trade Zone, Malaysia will serve as a regional e-fulfilment centre, and also become the regional hub for SMEs, marketplaces and monobrands,” said Dato’ Sri Najib. He added, “Both DFTZ and Electronic World Trade Platform (eWTP), the brainchild of Jack Ma, have one common goal. We want to help SMEs overcome the complex regulations, processes and barriers, and eventually

further encourage businesses and traders to connect and collaborate in cross-border trading”. DFTZ consists of three main components that combine both physical and virtual zones. The physical zone comprises of the e-fulfilment Hub and Satellite Services Hub while the virtual zone consists of the eServices Platform. DFTZ has the potential to double the growth rate of Malaysian SMEs’ goods export by 2025. It is also estimated to support US$65 billion worth of goods moving through DFTZ. Additionally, DFTZ is expected to create 60,000 direct and indirect jobs by 2025. “The eWTP or Electronic World Trade Platform should be driven by businesses and supported by governments. If we can build an inclusive platform for

13 businesses and young people to trade and do business freely, openly, and fairly, this will be fundamental to the world economy over the next 20 to 30 years and for the century,” said Ma. DFTZ’s implementation of physical and virtual zones will be done in phases. The first efulfilment Hub will be centred at KLIA Aeropolis. KLIA Aeropolis development is centred on the key clusters of air cargo and logistics, aerospace and aviation. The initial phase will be rolled out before the end of 2017 by Alibaba, Cainiao, Lazada and POS Malaysia, leading to the formal launch of Alibaba’s facility at the end of 2019. The other physical component of the DFTZ is the Satellite Services Hub, to be located in Bandar Malaysia. Kuala Lumpur Internet City (KLIC) will be the first satellite services hub of DFTZ and will be developed by another strategic partner, Catcha Group, Southeast Asia’s leading internet group. KLIC is set to be the premier digital hub for global and local internet-related companies targeting Southeast Asia. It will comprise of key players within the internet ecosystem to facilitate end-to-end support, networking and knowledge-sharing that will drive innovation in the internet economy and the e-commerce industry. “Catcha Group is proud to be a strategic partner of DFTZ, supporting Malaysia’s plan to propel the growth of the country’s internet economy. We are excited to be developing KLIC, bringing all the key e-commerce players and internet companies within close proximity of each other to create a premier digital hub. Our vision for KLIC is to be the ASEAN headquarter for global internet MNC’s, regional leaders and aspiring entrepreneurs in the internet ecosystem.” said Patrick Grove, Co-Founder and Group CEO of Catcha Group. The virtual zone, which is the eServices Platform, will be made available in time to support the goods movement within DFTZ. The eServices platform will also offer integrated services that will help deliver a streamlined and efficient experience to the users operating from the DFTZ. Further expansions of DFTZ are also planned for beyond 2019.

The DFTZ launch was graced by many local and international dignitaries.

The launch ceremony also witnessed the exchanges of Memorandum of Understanding (MoUs) between four parties, and they are;


MDEC and Alibaba Group for strategic collaboration in the development of DFTZ in Malaysia consistent with the objective of the Electronic World Trade Platform (eWTP); and the development of a Regional Hub for e-commerce business, trade facilitation, SME onboarding, cloud services for enterprises and an e-fulfilment and logistics hub.

2 3

Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad and Cainiao Network for the development of a regional e-commerce and Logistics Hub in KLIA Aeropolis as part of the DFTZ Initiative. Alipay and Maybank / Alipay and CIMB for the collaboration in launching Alipay barcode payment in Malaysia. This partnership will enable mainland Chinese tourists to make payment using their favourite payment method – their Alipay e-wallet. For Malaysian merchants, this will give them exposure to the vast China market.


MDEC and Catcha Group for the collaboration for the establishment of Kuala Lumpur Internet City (KLIC).

DFTZ will provide SMEs, marketplaces and monobrands a holistic e-commerce trading experience through these benefits: Strategic location and global best-inclass facilities

• Gateway to the region and proximity to sea and air ports • High efficiency modular e-fulfilment warehouse • Satellite services hub to support e-commerce ecosystem • Employee-centric infrastructure


• Unified government services platform • Integrated digital eServices platform to access leading global service providers • Presence of global logistics and fulfilment service providers

Regulatory processes

• Improve regulatory processes leading to faster customs and cargo clearance

Malaysia Retailer Vol 5 No 2



A Masterclass In Transformation Alibaba’s maverick founder and executive chairman Jack Ma dishes out entrepreneurial advice at the Global Transformation Forum 2017 in Kuala Lumpur.

mong the many key speakers at the GTF2017, Jack Ma’s hour-long Transformation Masterclass II was one of the most anticipated sessions in the two-day event. The diminutive self-made man had who’s who of the Malaysian corporate world glued to their seats in anticipation of what he had to say. They were not disappointed as he had many things to say about our current world and the future. The 52-year-old started his company in his apartment in Hangzhou, China, with 18 friends in 1999. Despite facing multiple rejections, today the Alibaba Group generates an annual gross merchandise volume of US$580 billion with the goal of achieving the one trillion mark by 2020. “I don’t think I’m talented or well trained. I never listened to my teachers and my mother. Over the years, I’ve trained myself to take two to three seconds to question what the media and people tell me. “I spent seven years in primary school while normal students took five years. I applied three times to get into university. I applied for 30 jobs but did not get one. “When I tried to look for a job at KFC, 24 people applied and 23 were hired. I was the only one who was not accepted. I also tried to be a policeman.


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Five classmates went and four were accepted, I was turned down,” he said. He shared that he tried to raise money before starting Alibaba, meeting more than 30 venture capitalists and met with zero success. But Ma said it was the rejection and failure that made him who he is today. “Every mistake. Every setback, every time people refuse us, I take that as a training course. “You need to learn how to correct your mistakes, do better. In my entrepreneur school in China, the students learn from case studies especially in failure. They need to know why these people fail.” Another point he made was having a positive attitude, to be optimistic. “Going into business is like going into the battlefield. Most will lose but those who survived will be winners. “Successful people never complain. They are optimistic. People who complain a lot have no chance of winning. They are blind, not seeing the opportunities in front of them.” Ma said we are currently undergoing the third technology revolution, changing the way we do business and live. “In each revolution, there is a huge turbulence that comes with it. It will kill jobs but it will also create different jobs. “As for e-commerce, traditional retail doesn’t work well in China because its retail setup is not as developed. That’s

why e-commerce in China grows faster than the US. The US has very strong traditional retail. Alibaba in China uses the internet to improve the new retail experience. “E-commerce is a ‘dessert’ for developed countries like the US but it is the ‘main course’ in China.” However, the future of retail would be a combination of online, offline and logistics, all three factors working together, he said. “If your manufacturing is based on large scale conveyor belt production, low-cost, low skill and low quality, you have no future. “New retail is about tailor made products, serving customers better.” He also sees opportunities for small businesses in Asia, especially in countries that are lagging in IT knowledge, likened to how farmers in Indonesia are great users of the mobile phone. “If we can harness data from their usage, we can help them, delivering better solutions. Now is the time for data. DT, not Donald Trump, the mobile phone is more powerful compared to computers made years ago. We need to use data collected from our mobile phones, apply artificial intelligence and machine learning to improve lives.” On a lighter note, he said, “I won’t be dying in the office, I want to retire and die on a beach.”



Alipay To Step It Up In Southeast Asia China’s giantkiller has made significant investments in e-payment services and online marketplace to make inroads into the region.

ounded in 2004, Alipay is a part of the Alibaba empire helmed by founder Jack Ma. Its aggressive expansion has seen it serving 200 countries online and dominating in China, edging out other more established payment platforms. Now they are looking to widen their empire into Southeast Asia. The payment system allows its 450 million users to link their bank or credit cards to its app and make payments on Alibaba’s Taobao and Tmall, China’s largest e-commerce marketplaces. It processes 175 million transactions per day, and 60% of all transactions happen via mobile device. Alipay developed an industry, known as escrow services. It’s a service where the consumers can verify whether they are happy with goods they have bought before paying the seller. This service was offered for what the company says are China’s weak consumer protection laws. However, the exact replica might not be applicable in Southeast Asia where consumers prefer to pay cash on delivery. To circumvent that, Alipay’s


parent company, Ant Financial Service Group, is investing in Ascend Money, Lazada, Moneygram and Mynt, instead of introducing a unified payment platform. In November 2016, it took a 20% stake in Ascend Money, a provider of e-payment services and micro-loans in Thailand that also operates in Cambodia, Indonesia, Myanmar, the Philippines and Vietnam. Alibaba’s biggest overseas deal was struck in 2015 when it invested US$1 billion in the ASEAN market by taking a controlling share in Lazada Group SA that has an established presence in the region. Ant Financial’s most recent move is an undisclosed investment in Mynt, a Globe Telecom financial venture and its first investment in the Philippines. Mynt provides a micro-payment service and mobile loans. Globe Telecom has 66.6 million subscribers, making it the Philippines’ largest operator. Ant Financial’s US$880 million purchase of Moneygram will also expand Alipay into Southeast Asia, and around the world. It follows similar partnerships

with KakaoPay in South Korea and Paytm in India. With collaborative approaches, Alipay is poised to hit a positive stride in Southeast Asia. It recognises that its size and dominance in China are no guarantee of success. Their work with companies who can provide them access to customers and technology is the right way to go. Meanwhile in Europe, Alipay has presence at popular European destinations for Chinese tourists, with the number of stores and restaurants accepting Alipay up 10-fold from three months ago. More than 2,000 merchants and restaurants in Europe accept payments via the mobile app Alipay, compared with just 200 at the end of November, according to Rita Liu, head of Alipay Europe. It will expand the roll out of its real-time tax refund services to 12 European airports. In February, Alipay’s refund system was introduced at three European airports – Milan, Munich and Helsinki.

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16 Dato’ Eddie Choon, Founder President of MRCA, distributing goodie bags to a charity home.


Dato’ Garry Chua, MRCA President with the Council members 2016-2018. On Dato’ Garry Chua’s right is Dato’ Liaw Choon Liang, immediate past president of MRCA.

MRCA Turns

What started as a way to the strengthen to country’s retail industry in the early 1990s, the revered association is now a driving force in nation-building.

Dato’ Tay Sim Kim led an MRCA delegation in 2011 to the Prime Minister’s office during his tenure as President.

MRCA CEO Night with Tan Sri Tony Fernandez in 2010.

Ong Kah Ting, former Minister of Transport, with MRCA President Dato’ Albert (left) at MRCA’s CNY Dinner 2007.

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Deputy Prime Minister Dato’ Sri Dr. Ahmad Zahid Hamidi was the guest of honour at Dato’ Garry Chua’s installation in 2016.

n the 1980s, Malaysia experienced rapid economic growth, especially after the 1985-86 property market depression. However, the retail industry was at its infancy without a collective clear direction. Seeing that the industry was in desperate need for direction, in 1992, Dato’ Eddie Choon, prominent visionary Malaysian chain retailer and Executive Chairman of Poh Kong Holdings Berhad founded the Retailers Chain Affiliation (RCA) with two other prominent visionary leaders. Founder President Dato’ Eddie believed that the local retail industry could grow stronger with mutual support rather than competition. Later the RCA changed its name to Malaysia Retail Chain Association (MRCA) to better reflect its aim and member composition. The MRCA’s humble beginnings saw less than 10 business leaders joining together to regroup and support Malaysian retailers. During the initial economic boom in the early 1990s, Malaysia was one of the fastest growing economies in the world. The growth rate averaged 8% between 1986 and 1996, one of the highest rates in the world. In that time Malaysia grew from near developing country status to the world’s 13th largest economy. However, it was brought to a halt during the Asian economic crisis in 1997-98. The retail industry was not spared, of course. But with MRCA steering the


Former MRCA President Dato’ Lee Hwa Chen led a trade delegation to Shanghai.

17 Dato’ Sri Nelson Kwok led a Charity climb to Mt Kinabalu in 2012.

Former President Dato Liaw Choon LIang presenting a token of appreciation to Dato’ Sri Hamzah Zainuddin, Minister of Domestic Trade, Co-operatives and Consumerism.

ship, many of its members managed to weather the storm to emerge stronger and more resilient. Dato’ Chin See Keat who was the next President, later handed the baton to BONIA Corporation Berhad Group Managing Director, Datuk Albert Chiang. Datuk Albert continued to expand MRCA’s reach beyond Malaysian shores. The Association of Chain and Franchise Promotion Taiwan joined as an affiliate member in 2006 while he led business missions overseas so participating members could gain insights into market trends, business culture and practice. He then passed the mantle to Sinma Jewellery Centre Sdn Bhd CEO Datuk Lee Hwa Cheng. He initiated the CEO Night where a decorated captain of an industry was invited to speak of his entrepreneurial and management experience. He also oversaw the acquisition of a new office for the MRCA Secretariat in Petaling Jaya, among his other contributions. He was followed by Dato’ Tay Sim Kim, who was then the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of OSIM (M) Sdn Bhd. His numerous contributions included organising the first MRCA Media Night in 2011 and led 20 MRCA members to the International Franchise Expo in Washington DC in 2011. He also successfully raised RM1.33 million for the MRCA Branding Education Charity Foundation, which was established to carry out CSR work on behalf of MRCA. He was succeeded by Datuk Seri Nelson Kwok, Founder and Managing

Charity Run 2016 with Dato’ Sri Hamzah Zainudin (in black T-shirt), Minister of Domestic Trade, Co-operatives and Consumerism.

Director at Nelson’s Franchise (M) Sdn Bhd. Datuk Seri Kwok led a delegation to scale Malaysia’s highest peak, Mount Kinabalu in Sabah in 2012. In 2013, he was appointed the Honorary Council of the Republic of Mozambique to Malaysia and led a delegation to the African nation to explore business opportunities. He also oversaw the formation of the MRCA Academy, a non-profit training and programme development centre. He handed the helm to Focus Point Holdings Berhad CEO Dato’ Liaw Choon Liang, who was instrumental in organising the inaugural Malaysian International Retail, Franchise and Licensing Fair in 2016 with the MRCA Retail Conference. His generosity also saw many big charity events held, collecting more funds for the underprivileged. Currently, MRCA is led by founder and group managing director of Rotol Group Dato’ Garry Chua. When he took over, he outlined a seven-point action plan to propel the association into the future. Apart from holding legacy event, he managed to attract more membership, making it the highest in its history. He also encouraged more interaction with the media and the Government, allowing MRCA to carry out its role more effectively. Today, the association has more than 385 members. It is also recognised as one of the most influential retail representation in the country, whose

members operate more than 25,000 outlets and support more than 150,000 job opportunities. The ever changing government policies and rules of the marketplace means that association’s responsibilities are not over. It has an obligation to keep members informed of the latest policies, best practices, technology, business strategies and more. In addition, the MRCA is one of the most active clubs in Malaysia. Highly anticipated events such as the CEO Night, MRCA Anniversary and Awards Banquet, the Crown Awards and the charity efforts regularly attract members as well as industry captains. In support of its members’ international growth, the association launched the Malaysia International Retail, Franchise and Licensing Fair (MIRF) in 2016. This year, marks the fair’s second edition. The MRCA is also focused on promoting a healthy lifestyle and CSR activities for members. The MRCA charity foundation actively supports the less fortunate through events such as golf tournament and the annual charity run. The future of Malaysia’s retail chain and franchise landscape will be demanding as the digital economy begins to take hold in the region. As such, the association is driving the digital programme that will benefit all members. With the association’s support, the Malaysian retail industry will be creative, resilient and forwardlooking.

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Leaders of MRCA In conjunction with the association’s 25th anniversary, MRCA’s President Council has some inspiring words to share.

Founder President, Dato’ Eddie Choon “When I established MRCA in 1992, I believed that the retail industry was stronger together rather than competing against one another. It was important to have a singular loud voice representing the industry in the public and private sectors. MRCA has come a long way since then. Now, it is the leading figure of the retail and franchise industry which allows it to propel the industry to further heights.”

President Council, Datuk Albert Chiang “Congratulations on turning 25. It is a great milestone to be proud of. I’m happy to see that the association has grown leaps and bounds from when I was President. We had envisioned to provide a common ground for retailers and franchisors to come together to discuss and resolve issues that affected the industry. Over the years, MRCA has been successful in fostering closer ties among its members as well as the Government.”

President Council, Datuk Lee Hwa Cheng “I’m glad to see that the association has been growing in a positive way over the years. They have continued to champion for its vision, which is to harness the power of networking to expand business and facilitate enhancement of chain stores management through education and training. Participating in the ongoing talks, seminars and so on will give members valuable insights into the industry and beyond. I hope that in the next 25 years MRCA will achieve more accolades than ever before.”

President Council, Datuk Seri Nelson Kwok “It is heartening that MRCA has been continuing the good work we did, remaining focused on increasing membership, training and education, charities, sports, fellowship and health. The association’s strong foundation has seen it enrich members with knowledge and business opportunities beyond our shores. I hope that our tight-knit MRCA community continues to prioritise members’ interests and work towards common goals. I can’t wait to see what lies ahead for MRCA in the coming years.”

President Council, Dato’ Tay Sim Kim “One cannot underestimate the importance and the role MRCA plays in the retail and franchise industry. After 25 years, it is great to see the growing list of members achieving success in and outside Malaysia. I’m also very proud to note the continuous efforts in regards to our MRCA Branding Education Charity Foundation, not forgetting to extend a helping hand to the underprivileged members of society.”

President Council, Dato’ Liaw Choon Liang “MRCA over its 25 years has done a lot of good for the retail and franchise community, organising numerous activities to train, educate and share experience among the members. I’m also heartened to see that the efforts to foster great working relationships with the media and the government are going strong. The industry cannot stand on its own without the help of others, and MRCA is the connecting bridge to all these parties. I hope the members will continue to give their utmost support so the association can achieve future milestones.”

President Council, Dato’ Garry Chua “I’m immensely proud to usher MRCA’s 25th year as its President. We are able to do the good work thanks to the strong foundation the President Council and long-time members have laid over the years. We have many exciting activities lined up for the year such as MIRF 2017, CEO Night, Crown Awards and a grand anniversary dinner. I hope more retail and franchise players will join in to strengthen our industry in Malaysia and beyond.”

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19 Feature

Long-time MRCA Members Here are some congratulatory notes from some of MRCA’s oldest members to celebrate the association’s 25th anniversary.

“Time flies and in a blink of an eye MRCA is already 25 years old. We would like to extend our heartiest congratulations for your constant support and encouragement.” – Marrybrown Sdn Bhd (MRCA member since January 1996)

“Every celebration must have a cake. We wish that you will have the biggest cake of all for your 25th anniversary.” – King’s Confectionery Sdn Bhd (MRCA member since 1995)

“It’s been a journey worth going together. We wish MRCA all the best and may more success come your way.” – Pathology & Clinical Laboratory (M) Sdn Bhd (MRCA member since September 1997)

“Congratulations on turning 25. We look forward to many more opportunities to work together, and watching our progress as the industry develops.” – Target Fashion Sdn Bhd (MRCA member since July 1996)

“It has been an unbelievable experience joining MRCA. The retail and franchise industry has improved so much with your help. Here’s to more celebrations to come.” – PJ Uniform Sdn Bhd (MRCA member since September 1997)

“We’ve been a member for more than 20 years and MRCA has never fail to deliver. We’re happy to be a part of this big successful family. Happy birthday.” – Leafon Garment Sdn Bhd (Jack Maker) (MRCA member since February 1995)

“It has been many great years since joining MRCA. We’re happy to see the association grow with the times, similar to our company as well. We’re excited to see what the next 25 years will bring.” – Fotokem Sdn Bhd (MRCA member since 1995)

“The retail landscape has changed so much and we’re glad to be onboard with MRCA through these times. Congratulations on turning 25.” – Gch Retail (M) Sdn Bhd (MRCA member since April 1997)

“Congratulations, MRCA. Keep up the good work that you’re doing for the betterment of our industry in Malaysia. Have a great 25th anniversary.” – Sinma Jewellery Centre Sdn Bhd (MRCA member before 1995)

“Happy birthday MRCA from all of us. We are also celebrating being an MRCA member for 20 years.” – Delcol Water Solution Sdn Bhd (MRCA member since March 1997)

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Dato’ Sri Hamzah Zainuddin, Minister of Domestic Trade, Co-operatives and Consumerism launched MIRF 2016.



Exciting Times at MIRF 2017 As the MIRF 2017 draws closer, participants, trade visitors and exhibitors have a lot to look forward to.

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he highly anticipated Malaysia International Retail and Franchise Fair (MIRF) is back for its second year, promising more international participation, speakers and floor space for business opportunities, at MATRADE in Kuala Lumpur. It was established to complement the needs of the professional with various educational features and business networking opportunities. It is also useful for retailers and consumers to interact and forge new partnerships, and initiate cross border collaboration. Last year’s fair was attended by more than 15,000 visitors who visited over 230 exhibition booths from more than 10 countries. Leveraging on its tremendous success, MRCA yet again appointed Council member Dato’ Liew Bin as its Organising Chairman to lead a team of enthusiastic people to run the second MIRF. “We have secured exhibitors for 90% of our booths in March, which speaks of the enthusiasm the industry has for the event. “Visitors can expect a wide variety of companies and startups showing their innovations, looking for further business opportunities and expand the retail industry,” said Dato’ Liew. Aside from Malaysians, participating companies come from Taiwan, Thailand, Indonesia, South Korea, the US, among others. MIRF 2017 is endorsed by Malaysia’s Ministry of Domestic Trade, Co-operatives and Consumerism and External Trade Development Corporation (MATRADE), and supported by the Ministry of Tourism and Culture.


Some of MIRF 2017 exhibitors to look out for Mah Sing Group Bhd The prestigious property developer will be proudly showcasing its commercial projects tailor made for retailers. Expect to be spoilt for choice and special packages on the exhibition days. As many investors would say, when buying property, remember to entrust your money to reputable developers. Mah Sing is also the Diamond Sponsor for MIRF 2017.

PIKOM One of MIRF 2017’s supporting partner, PIKOM will be offering technology solutions to help retailers and franchise operators maximise their productivity by introducing efficiency and digital solutions. Business owners can see for themselves the market offerings the technology sector has made for the retail market.

STC Management Sdn Bhd Founded by Stanley Tan in 1998 as Stanley Tuition Centre, the business has grown to be a popular licensor that specialises in early childhood education and daycare services with more than 30 outlets in Malaysia. Recently, it has set foot into the Taiwan market and continues to seek international partners.

CNC Formally known as Churros & Co., CNC now aims to not only be a foodie’s dream but also an upcoming lifestyle brand. Its menu is carefully crafted with its own blend of coffee to authentic churros with homemade sauces. MIRF 2017 is a good platform

for CNC to reintroduce its brand and culture as well as to network with trade visitors.

Hap Seng Star Sdn Bhd Appointed by Mercedes-Benz Malaysia in 2004 as its third authorized dealer in the Klang Valley, Hap Seng Star Sdn Bhd, a subsidiary of Hap Seng Auto Sdn Bhd, is committed to develop the Mercedes-Benz luxury automobile market. Its signature Mercedes-Benz Autohaus is fashioned after the one in Germany, boasting state-of-theart facilities that reflect the brand’s passion for quality, innovation and fascination. See it for yourself at MIRF 2017.

KOMUGI KOMUGI offers a deliciously authentic variety of handmade Japanese breads, cakes and confectioneries made by their inhouse team of Japanese pastry chefs who bake everything daily to ensure freshness and quality. The bakery is looking forward to collaborating with partners who believe in the brand to take it to the next level.

Caffé bene Malaysia Originating from South Korea, Caffé bene serves coffee made from the world’s best seasonally harvested fresh coffee beans to ensure a truly exceptional cup of java. It also has authentic Belgian waffles, Italian gelato and natural fruit smoothies. At MIRF 2017, visitors can get a taste of its signature harmonious and comforting ambiance of its coffee shops.

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A Delegation To Taiwan MRCA with its President and members paid an enriching visit to the Taipei International Chain and Franchise Spring Exhibition in March 2017.

n conjunction with the ever growing healthy trade relationship between MRCA and the Association of Chain and Franchise Promotion Taiwan (ACFPT), a strong delegation of more than 30 representatives of MRCA and its member companies spent a few days visiting the expo, partners and more. The trip, from March 15 to 18, 2017, at the invitation of ACFPT was led by MRCA President Dato’ Garry Chua, MIRF 2017 Organising Chairman Dato’ Liew Bin, Vice-President Dato’ KK Chai, and fellow Council Members – Dato’ Winnie Lim, Alex Wong, Dato’ Choi Wei Yee – and more. It was a fruitful trip for many as the delegates got to see the retail and franchise markets and trends in Taiwan and East Asia. On the first day, MRCA attended the expo’s opening ceremony, where Malaysian company STC Education Group signed a franchising MoU with Shane English School in Taiwan. Founded by Stanley Tan in 1998 as Stanley Tuition Centre, the business has grown to be a popular licensor that specialises in early childhood education and daycare services with more than 30 outlets in Malaysia. Later in discussions with ACFPT President Richard Li, he encouraged more Taiwanese companies to attend the MIRF 2017 in KL this July. The delegation was taken on a tour of the expo grounds, visiting participating booths for networking purpose, exchanging contacts and gathering of information.


Ribbon cutting at the official opening ceremony of Taipei International Chain and Franchise Spring Exhibition.

Malaysian delegation led by Dato’ Garry Chua at the exhibition.

Dato’ Liew Bin presented a token of appreciated to Mitsui Chairman, Ray Huang.

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Dato’ Garry Chua presented a token of appreciation to Richard Li, President of ACFPT.

At night, ACFPT hosted a sumptuous dinner for MRCA and delegates from South Korea, Vietnam, Philippines, Thailand and Singapore, where they also ceremoniously exchanged mementos.

Mitsui Group On day two, the delegation visited the Mitsui Group and Chuan Lian Enterprise headquarters. The Mitsui Chairman, Ray Huang, presented a detailed talk about the company and hosted a Q&A session. The MRCA was then taken to view the Addiction Aquatic Development – a new base located in Taipei’s Fish Market that intends to restore the vitality to the fish market. It aims to evolve above the mess found in traditional markets and hopes to let consumers return to the market and enjoy the festival atmosphere found in traditional markets. The partitions of AAD are clear, with 10 different theme areas in a space of 1,983 sqm. It also aims to provide fresh and excellent quality control of products and reasonable pricing to customers. This way, general consumers or business

buyers are able to get good seafood products with excellent values. By combining aquamarine products, supermarket, theme restaurants, and home aesthetics, the AAD aims to be an innovative location for consumers where they can eat, buy, and purchase with pleasure.

Chuan Lian Enterprise Co. Ltd The MRCA delegation also visited Chuan Lian Enterprise Co. Ltd. Upon arrival, they were given a briefing of the company by CEO Hsu Chung-Jen. Later they were also taken to view a Pxmart chain store with a Q&A held thereafter. PX Mart Co. Ltd, operating as Pxmart, is a supermarket chain in Taiwan. It is often known as “Whole Union Welfare Centre” with its corporate headquarters in the Zhongzheng district, Taipei. As of 2008, Pxmart is Taiwan’s largest “hard discounter” chain. Originally government run post exchanges (PXs) for military and government workers (identification was required to shop there), the stores were privatised in 1998 and became open to

the general public. There are currently 846 stores in Taiwan. Currently Chuan Lian is aiming for 1,000 stores by the end of this year. It will be a 20% increase. These will be mainly in urban centres, featuring fresh and prepared foods. After studying in Japan in the 1970s, Hsu returned to Taiwan and introduced the 7-Eleven convenience store brand. He moved to Chuan Lian in 2014, and immediately set about re-establishing the company’s strength in fresh foods. In 2015, Chuan Lian opened a bakery store in the heart of Taipei, and in January spent 450 million New Taiwan dollars (US$13.9 million) to acquire grocery chain Matsusei. Its 53 stores brought Chuan Lian’s total to more than 840 locations. Taiwanese supermarkets typically receive product shipments directly from manufacturers through thirdparty logistics services, but Hsu wants to create a more efficient framework with a network of logistics centres and information systems to manage distribution. Chuan Lian targets NT$200 billion in sales by 2020 – more than double 2015’s figure.

Conclusion It was a fruitful visit for MRCA as the members got to see and hear for themselves how the retail chain stores and franchising industry is perceived in Taiwan. With discussions and meetings with ACFPT and CEOs of the Mitsui Group and Chuan Lian, MRCA members are reinvigorated with ideas and strategies on how to better improve their way of conducting business. Moreover this visit is a great precursor to ACFPT’s visit to Kuala Lumpur for MIRF 2017 in June. The Taiwan delegation is one of the biggest this year with many ACFPT members taking part as exhibitors. This ties in well with MRCA’s vision to reach out to peer association overseas and foster close ties.

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Dato’ Yasmin Mahmood, CEO of MDEC.

MRCA Retail Conference 2017

Bryan Loo. Loob Holdings (Tealive).

Dato’ CM Vignaesvaran, the Chief Executive of HRDF officiated at the MRCA Retail Conference 2016.

The association will be hosting more than 20 industry leaders sharing their outlook on the ever-growing business landscape. n today’s multichannel marketplace, consumers are flooded with more options of what to buy and where to buy than ever before. With each interaction, they choose which retailers they support not only with money, but with time, attention, personal data, and social capital. Digital’s growing impact requires companies to take a different approach to retail, regardless of channel or platform. Mobile, collaboration, and automation technologies allow retailers and brands to scale new services such as alwayson assistance, intelligent transactions, and on-demand delivery to make the purchase path as seamless as possible. And, with each interaction, advanced analytics solutions gather data that provides a more nuanced understanding of the individual shopper – in real time, at the moment of decision. Organised by MRCA Deputy SecretaryGeneral Dato’ Bruce Lim, the MRCA Retail Conference 2017 will be held on July 12 at the St Giles, The Gardens Kuala Lumpur themed “Innovation: The Future is Now”. It will be focused on the rapid evolving retail landscape, newer technologies, newer business models and big data. “Medium to senior management


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level personnel from retail and e-commerce industries that are encouraged to attend to glean new business strategies and methods that will benefit their businesses, and to hear from the experts on the era of innovation. Young entrepreneurs and startups who want to be inspired by testimonials and stories by top experts, and to learn new business tips and strategies should attend the conference,” he said. The keynote speaker of the conference is Dato’ Yasmin Mahmood, CEO of MDEC, who will provide insights into taking advantage of the Internet of Things and Big Data to stay relevant and grow business in the digital economy. Other speakers are: • Mr. Soong Hoi See, Plaza Premium Lounge who will share his secrets in expanding one’s business beyond the shores of the country. • Dato’ Sri Desmond To of Aladdin Street who will provide an insight into his winning partnership with Manchester United Football Club and carving a niche in online retail with its unique halal products & services. The youth segment will see second generation and young retailpreneurs such as Daryl Foong (The Body Shop),

Padini and Edison Choon (Poh Kong) engaging in a discussion about transforming and taking their retail business to the next level. Of interest is Choon’s foray into using RFID technology to increase productivity and drastically cutting costs. • Mr. Bryan Loo, Loob Holdings (Tealive) will share on the challenges and success of branding and building unique culture within his group as a business edge. Of interest would be the feat of opening more than 170 Tealive outlets in less than a month, and a successfully organised PR campaign leading to its launch. • Dato’ Chevy Beh of Bookdoc is a world recognised entrepreneur whose Bookdoc has attracted investments from the Brunei royalty and Stanley Ho of the Macau casino fame. Find out how he managed to cut his edge and build an innovative future business by designing Bookdoc around the health industry and consumer demands. The youth segment also promises to be interesting with Padini and YFS fashion show in the pipeline. “We want the conference to be engaging and not just a monologue,” said Dato’ Bruce.



Man of Steel The highly anticipated annual CEO Night is proud to have Tan Sri A K Nathanas the keynote speaker in May.

an Sri A K Nathan is the Executive Chairman and Group Managing Director of Eversendai Corporation Berhad. He was appointed to the Board of Eversendai Corporation Berhad on 12 August 2004. Being the founder of the Eversendai Group, he developed the company from a modest structural steel erection specialist in Malaysia into one of the world’s leading integrated structural steel turnkey contractors. Eversendai Corporation’s success is reflective of a man bold enough to try new ventures, intelligent enough to know what needs to be done, and brave enough to fail and try again. “In the early days I wanted to study and be somebody more academic. I was sent to India for studies when I was 15 years old. I was alone, living in a hostel, seeing the poverty in India and experiencing some tough times. During that period I had to manage with very little funds and live on one meal a day. “Going through those difficult time, I came to a lot of self-realisation. That’s the time that ignited my desire to


become successful and the only way I knew how was to venture into business,” he was quoted as saying to the Malaysia Tatler. He ventured into the printing business and then tried his hand at selling insurance before going into the construction business, despite having no prior knowledge. Under his leadership, the Eversendai Group had successfully completed the structural steel work for many high-profile global projects namely, Tower 2 of the Petronas and the Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Malaysia; the Burj Al Arab, Dubai Mall, Ski Dubai and Burj Khalifa in Dubai, UAE; Capital Gate in Abu Dhabi, UAE; and the New Doha International Airport in Doha, Qatar. He has also been instrumental in establishing steel fabrication facilities in Rawang, Dubai, Sharjah, Doha, Ras Al Khaimah, Thailand and Trichy with a collective production capacity that

When I was 15 years old. I was alone, living in a hostel, seeing the poverty in India and experiencing some tough times. During that period I had to manage with very little funds and live on one meal a day.

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exceeds well over 200,000 metric tonnes. Today, Eversendai employs almost 15,000 staff in 15 countries and operates out of nine operations offices. Tan Sri A K Nathan has won several notable industry awards which pay tribute to his contributions to the construction industry such as the Golden Construction Award 2008 from the Trade Leaders Club in Madrid, Spain, the Malaysian Entrepreneur of the Year 2008 from Ernst & Young, CEO of the Year Award in 2008 by CIDB as well as Lifetime Achievement Award for Leadership in Construction Industry by the World Chinese Economic Forum in 2015. He is also a prolific speaker and is often invited to deliver speeches at various seminars, forums, universities and conferences. This time, at MRCA’s CEO Night, he will be sharing his success stories and the challenges he faced building the company. Attendees will get a first-hand account that will inspire them to take their businesses to the next level. The event will be on May 24, 2017, 6.30pm at e.City Hotel at One City, Subang Jaya. For tickets, please contact the MRCA Secretariat before May 2, 2017.



Dato’ Gary and Caleen Chua toasting to the restaurant’s 18th anniversary.

18 Years Of Fine Thai Cuisine Imperial Chakri Palace celebrates its 18th year in business at its flagship outlet at Suria KLCC.

ince Imperial Chakri Palace first opened its doors on April 6, 1999 in the then brand new Suria KLCC, they have been providing the best experience of authentic fine Thai cuisine with highly skilled chefs who are handpicked from Thailand.


MRCA Council members.

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The name “Chakri” is a homage to Thailand’s long reigning Chakri Dynasty that has ruled the country since the founding of the Rattanakosin Era and the city of Bangkok in 1782. To celebrate this auspicious year, Dato’ Garry Chua and his team at Imperial Chakri Palace threw a party on

A birthday cake for the restaurant’s 18th anniversary.



April 10 with beloved VIPs, celebrities, guests and friends. Among them were the Swiss Ambassador HE Michael Winzap, Italian Ambassador HE Mario Sammartino and wife, Chef Wan, Tan Sri Danny Ooi, Dato’ Lawrence Chan, KLCC Sdn Bhd COO Francis Tan, MRCA members, the media and friends. The evening was buzzing with activity as guests were feted to a selection of wonderful Thai food, wine and drinks. Soon it was time for Dato’ Chua to present his welcome speech. He was introduced by his daughter Caleen Chua, who is also the CEO and director of Chakri Group of Restaurants. “It’s been a great 18 years for Imperial Chakri Palace and we are proud to have maintained our exclusivity at Suria KLCC and Pavilion KL. I’m very happy to have all of you here to help us celebrate this auspicious milestone. Let us toast to good health, prosperity and success,” said Dato’ Chua. Recently, Imperial Chakri Palace

revamped its menu to feature 16 signature creations prepared in a medley of styles where patrons can look forward to fine ingredients such as succulent king prawns, air-flown Australian lobster, fresh sea scallops and premium crab meat. Some of its signature dishes include Four Winged Bean Salad with King Prawn, Clear Tom Yam with Seabass, Australian Lobster with Thai Sweet and Spicy Sauce and more. They prided themselves serving customers fresh organic produce prepared with low cholesterol cooking oil, no MSG or artificial preservatives. In conjunction with its 18th anniversary, the restaurant is running numerous promotions and deals to reward its loyal customers. Rotol Food-Chain (M) Sdn Bhd, which owns Imperial Chakri Palace, also runs food and beverage outlets such as Chakri Xpress, Sanook, Rainforest Bistro, Raonforest Sports Bar and Rainforest Cafe.

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Sought-After Retail Destination – Kuala Lumpur Earning the 11th spot, the Malaysian capital city is one of the world’s fastest growing retail destination, ahead of Jakarta and Manila.

ood news for Malaysian retailers. Kuala Lumpur is now placed 11th among the world’s fastest growing retail destinations only behind Bangkok and Chengdu, just ahead of Jakarta and Manila in a study conducted by JLL (Jones, Lang & La Salle), a professional services and investment management company. The study has projected Kuala Lumpur’s retail growth at above 5.5% and its cross border retailer attractiveness as above average. In terms of cross border retail attractiveness for luxury brands, it ranks 24 out of 50 countries, according to Oxford Economics. Despite its smaller sales growth


forecast of 3.5% in 2016 by Retail Group Malaysia, further challenged by the rising costs living, retail is expected to pick up due to the festive seasons and the seasonal arrival of tourists. The retail sales growth rate of Malaysia’s retail industry in 2016 was to remain at 3.5% or RM99.5 billion in value. The JLL report also said the franchising route has been used particularly as a part of a retailer’s strategy to cope with higher risk markets. Malaysia has an advantage as one of the pioneers in franchising in the Asean region. With its established regulatory system, a strong association and a ministry to regulate the industry, Malaysian companies have a platform Pavilion KL.

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to expand in the services sector as well as for overseas growth. With the waiving of Chinese visas in March 2016, the arrival of tourists from mainland China is expected to balance the effects of the GST’s introduction in 2015. “Tourism will also drive the franchise industry’s growth. Tourists who come to Malaysia will look for the products and services when they go back to their country,” said MATRADE Deputy Chief Executive Officer Susila Devi at an Enhanced Franchise Development Scheme conference early in April 2016. Already, the franchise industry’s annual turnover in Malaysia is worth RM26 billion. It is pertinent that Malaysian retailers become more stringent and cut off unnecessary spending to sustain during challenging times, added D’Tandoor founder and CEO Datuk Abdul Malik Abdullah at the same conference. For shoppers and retailers in the Asia Pacific region, it would be harder to catch their breath these days as Asian cities transform into the fastest growing retail hubs in the world. The JLL research puts Shanghai and Beijing in the second and third place among the world’s fastest growing retail destinations category while Bangkok, Chengdu, Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta and Manila came in as the 9th to 13th placers, respectively. The study covers 240 international brands in the retail sector of 140 cities which, when combined, generates 36% of the world’s GDP and over US$15 trillion in consumer spending by 13% of the world’s population. Several Asian cities also emerged on the list, in terms of attracting international retailers. While London is the number one city for international retailers, Hong Kong follows closely. Singapore came in at 7th, Tokyo at 10th, Taipei at 12th, Seoul at 15th, Bangkok at 18th and Osaka at 20th. Jakarta is at the 28th spot. “The search for growth is escalating the penetration of international brands across the world’s most attractive retail cities, especially in Asia,” David Zoba, chairman of JLL’s Global Retail Leasing Board told Nikkei Asian Review. Asia’s climb in becoming a global retail hub is due to the shift in world economic balances. Western economies


Sunway Pyramid Shopping Mall.

are still reeling from their slower growth rates while Asian countries continue to chart 4 to 5% growth rates, according to the International Monetary Fund. Rapid urbanisation in Asia is rampant, with population movement heading towards the cities. Oxford Economics has predicted millions of middle-income households with incomes between US$10,000 and US$70,000 will also emerge in Jakarta, Chongqing, Shanghai, Tokyo and Beijing. Retail in 2017 might also see the role of the physical store expand thanks to e-commerce or e-retailing. The brick and mortar store now represents an operational vehicle that could be a physical distribution channel but it is the clicks and online transactions which could drive in or affect how business is done and ultimately, profits. Retailers may need to adopt a “multi-channel” business model. One might take on the online to offline (O2O) strategy, a concept which originated in China. Simply put, O2O means a website or anything digital which motivates the consumer to go purchase the goods or services at a physical store. Nielsen predicts that in 10 years’ time, 50% of China’s consumption will be transacted online. Closer to home, the anticipated arrival of Amazon in Singapore is expected to heat up the competition for e-commerce and retailers in the two countries. Overall, the rapid urbanisation of the region with population growth in attractive cities for global players as well as e-commerce seems to signal potential growth and opportunities for Asia as a retail hub.

1 Utama Shopping Centre.

Suria KLCC.

Mega Mall in Mid-Valley, KL.

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True Understanding Of Consumer Sentiments Suria KLCC Sdn Bhd Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer Andrew Brien shares some of his business strategies in ensuring the mall continues to outperform expectations.

uria KLCC’s head honcho Andrew Brien has been at the helm for over a decade. In that time, he steered the company into much higher earnings and attracted renowned brands to Malaysia. He openly shared some of his understanding of the industry and how local retailers can strive to compete with international offerings.


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With the lacklustre performance of the retail industry last year, how do you manage to score a record high for Suria KLCC? 2016 was a record year for us as we had RM2.46 billion in retail sales alone, an 8% increase from 2015. So far, this year, sales are growing well and at some stage, we will crack RM2.5 billion. In the last decade about 400 stores

have changed in Suria KLCC. Some brands remain hot, and successful brands are consistently looking at what customers want. Meanwhile, Alamanda in Putrajaya is undergoing major refurbishment which includes relocating its foodcourt and adding new specialty stores. Mesra Mall in Terengganu is also turning well over RM100 million and it has great foot traffic. How do you ensure a mall remains relevant and interesting? We rely heavily on research and evolve with our customers. Our clientele wants a personal experience, in fact, Asia has moved towards going for unique products and no longer just overt display of labels. Subtlety is what people want. For example, a branded shirt used to have big splashy logos in front, on the sleeves and back. Now, the branding is subtle, almost invisible. This trend is growing in Asia as it is globally. So it’s no longer about labels. If the customers do not have a great shopping experience at your store, chances are they won’t come back. Back to our research methods, we employ them regularly. We have our mystery shoppers going around the

33 mall for item pick-up, exchange and so on, asking security for help and concierge staff for direction. How have your insights on customer experience help retailers under your care? That’s one of our main differentiating factors. We provide relevant research findings, non-profit training and the expertise of our marketing team. For example, if a retailer comes to us saying that business is not going well for whatever reason, we can have a look at its neighbouring outlets. If they are doing well, then it allows us to help pinpoint what problems the said retailer might be having. At the end of the day, it’s all about the bespoke customer experience you are offering. Retailers can no longer expect to just open a store in a good location and expect success. Those days are over. They need to invest in staff training, fit out and ongoing marketing of their brand. Successful retailers make sure they are up to mark with languages, service and product understanding. We also take our retailer to tour successful malls overseas. Check out the level you need to be at to compete. Don’t just look at Southeast Asia. Aim higher. You want to play with the A grade, you have to know what it takes to play A Grade. What are some of the special services you provide for your retailers? In our office here in Menara Darussalam, our training centre can train 50 people classroom style. We provide assessment training for retail staff in languages – English, Arabic, Mandarin and so on – visual merchandising, customer handling and more. We have developed our in-house curriculum for a lot of these topics. Although 70% of the stores in Suria are owned and/or operated by Malaysians, the shopping crowd is vastly different from, say a neighbourhood mall, so your staff, be it merchandising, buyers, frontliners or stockists, have to understand your customers’ needs. I find it hard to just walk into a shoe shop and find my size, 44 (European size), simply because someone decided that this size is not going to sell all that well. But in Suria KLCC where you have

a larger foreign clientele, about 20% of last year’s foot traffic are foreigners, you need to make sure you have a diverse availability of sizes. You can’t have a blanket stock in all your stores. That doesn’t make sense. Another thing is why do you need to open in every single mall in the Klang Valley, especially if they are just relatively near one another? Maybe your marketing team needs to be more discerning. Do you agree that Suria KLCC is tagged as a luxury mall? Why is it still popular as a shopping destination? No. I don’t. You can get an item for as low as RM7.50, chicken rice, for example. On the other hand you can blow RM750,000 here too. What we create with our retail mix is value proposition for the customers. It’s not about being the cheapest or most expensive, customers are able to discern between value and cheap. The retail pie is made up of many small pieces. At Suria KLCC, we have great connectivity with the LRT and in the future, an MRT. There are thousands of residence units and offices. Just last year alone, our foot traffic exceeded 45 million. So you can imagine how many people go through our doors daily. Apart from that, where else can you find a mall with so many convenient entry points in the heart of the city? With five ways in and out of the mall’s parking lot connecting various city centre roads including Jalan Pinang, Jalan Tun Razak, Jalan P Ramlee and AKLEH, we’ve got fantastic infrastructure unmatched by any other development in Malaysia or the region. What is your opinion on the Government’s decision to restrict the sale seasons to only four a year? I think it’s fabulous and our retailers are loving it. Before this, people didn’t believe in sales because it was all the time. Do you expect a severe impact on brick and mortar retailers with the advent of online shopping in Southeast Asia? You need to have an established omnichannel, ensuring you have an online presence. Customers still prefer

a great retail experience through a personal interaction, and touch and feel. Commodities can be bought online, perhaps in a click and collect method. But at the end of the day, returning customers are those who have experienced a great service at your store. Most of the retailers who set up online do not have full control. If I were to operate an international brand, I would want at least full control of the Malaysian site. Whatever stock that is available online, must be in my stores. It’s frustrating for customers who can’t seem to find the items they saw online, when they go to your stores. Please share with us the next phase for Suria KLCC. On the other side of the KLCC Park, new developments are already under way. KLCC Holdings and the Qatari Development Investment Authority are in a joint venture to develop a more than 300,000 sq ft retail podium, a 75-storey office towers and a 54-storey five-star hotel. Suria KLCC is the retail development consultant and will ultimately operate the mall. Sitting adjacent will be an MRT station. The new project will be linked to Suria by a bridge at Level 3, above ground walkways and an underground pass. Currently we are in the sub structural phase, so you can’t really see what’s happening on the ground. The next phase has a leisure and lifestyle offer. Food will be a major focus and we understand food. Our Signatures food court is one of the very few ones owned and operated by a mall. We have the final say on the tenants, whether they are suited there or we can mix it up. It’s a lot of hard work.

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Sunway Velocity Mall, Kl South’s Urban Hub For Grub With more than 25% of retail space for food, Sunway Velocity Mall is the new foodie central for comfort food, gourmet fare, fine dining and more.

n celebration of Malaysians’ long and passionate love affair with food, Sunway Velocity Mall puts food, glorious food as its central attraction – bringing together a wide array of local, international and exotic flavours in one single location. As food and dining experiences increasingly grow in importance in the modern retail mix, the mall has dedicated 200,000 sq ft of retail space – spread across various food and beverage precincts around its seven floors. “Old meets new, local converges with global, organic and farmers’ markets produce, Asian and western, it’s a food experience like never before – being served all under one roof in the heart of Cheras. “The focus is on making Sunway Velocity Mall the ultimate lifestyle location through its unique positioning as the address for food,” said Sunway Malls Chief Operating Officer, Kevin Tan.


MICHELIN RECOMMENDED GOLDEN AFFAIR AT THE GRAND IMPERIAL Serving banquets bequeathing emperors, the Michelin-recommended Grand Imperial restaurants unveils its largest Malaysian fine dining establishment – featuring 17,000 sq ft of space and a menu fit for kings. This May 4, feast your senses on a truly palatial selection of the finest in Chinese gourmet dining. The restaurant will feature newand improved menu choices as wellas signature fare including delectable morsels that can only be savoured at Sunway Velocity Mall. These include Baked Village Chicken with Salt, Baked Spain Spare Ribs in Western Style, Cantonese Style Roasted Crispy Smoked

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Goose I and Braised Monk Jump Over The Wall (5 Head Abalone).



In complete contrast but equally charming is the European themed Marketplace precinct. This is the home for western cuisine and a host of wellloved and familiar bakeries and pastry makers with freshly baked wares giving a truly wonderful aroma. With décor that mimics the Venetian in Macau, the precinct offers a unique blend of Western and Oriental nuances that make it enticing not just for the food, but also for its design. Not to be outdone, Level 5’s Commune precinct has its own trappings for the foodie, which include Salad Atelier and Sevencups, each serving the best of tasty and light meals.

Healthy-living aficionados have not been left out. They can head to Malaysia’s first Figure Fuel outlet, Simple Life, Zen Japanese Vegetarian Cuisine and others to find choices that meet their preferences. These are also the ideal places for one to drop by post gym work-out with some outlets offering promotions with your CHi-X gym membership.

STREET EATS AND MORE Food Street Food consists mostly of food outlets started by families or those with quaint success stories i.e. Kim Lian Kee or Sai Kee Restaurant. Other names include Porridge Time, Teochew Chendul, Sam Kan Chong, BCH Bakkwa Pie and more. Think old school Chinese fare that one enjoys with a cup of milk tea while strolling down the streets of KL on a Sunday morning.

PASTRY, BAKERY, COFFEE AND TEA Other names worth mentioning are Taiwan’s top cake brand – Original Cake, the first outlet in Malaysia and outside of Taiwan. Originating from Tamshui, it’s the real deal for fluffy, delectable sponge cakes produced only by the brand’s distinctive ovens. Equally delightful is Marks & Spencer Coffee-to-Go outlet. For those who need a quick cuppa whether in the morning or for an afternoon pick-me-up, the UK retailer has got the answer with a wide selection of aromatic brews that are perfectly matched by traditional British cakes and pastries.

MAKAN MAKAN BY PARKSON FOOD HALL Last but not least, one can also drop by Makan Makan by Parkson with over 15 stalls and more than 40 choices of food and beverages. With meals at RM8 on average, the 18,000 sq ft food court offers moderately priced food for all. Think Nasi Lemak, Chinese Soup Desserts, Nasi Kandar, Curry Laksa, chicken chop, pasta, teppanyaki, thick Korean toast and more.


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MRCA Members At Pavilion Elite Kuala Lumpur’s luxury mall now houses Bonia, Sanoook and Tealive in the new wing.

avilion Elite, developed by Urusharta Cemerlang (KL) Sdn Bhd, a joint-venture between the Pavilion Group and Qatar Holdings LLC, opened its doors late last year, adjacent to Pavilion Kuala Lumpur. The overall integrated project costs approximately RM650 million to build and comprises a nett lettable area of approximately 250,000 sq ft. Pavilion Elite features more 70 brands across its 10-level retail podium. With this, Pavilion Elite will present shoppers with an exciting retail mix of fashion (40%), F&B (30%) and urban leisure (30%). Addressing Pavilion Elite’s retailers, business partners and the media at


the brands unveiling ceremony, Joyce Yap, speaking on behalf of Urusharta Cemerlang (KL) Sdn Bhd and in her capacity as retail complex manager, said that, “The opening of Pavilion Elite is set to add vibrancy, choice and variety to the industry and will complement and enhance the total retail and lifestyle experience of Bukit Bintang, further transforming it into one of the world’s top tourism destinations.” Yap added that “With some of South East Asia’s biggest stores, new concept stores and large-format flagship stores housed within Pavilion Elite, the project will indeed be a testament to retail excellence in Bukit Bintang, the shopping haven in Kuala Lumpur.”



After a successful opening of its first outlet at Sunway Pyramid, Sanoook has confidently opened its second outlet. A more vibrant, fun and young offshoot of the more established Chakri Palace, unique Japanese-Thai fusion items such as Grilled Tuna Sushi Roll with Spicy Tom Yam Sauce and Vegetarian Sushi Roll with Sesame Mayonnaise. The lunch crowd is strong so make sure you head there early to grab a seat and delectable bites made from secret and authentic Thai recipes with a twist of presentation and creative culture of Japanese food.

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Among the established brands is Bonia. Spanning across 2,018 sq ft, the new Bonia flagship boutique in Pavilion Elite reflects the brand’s aesthetic and ethical approach, highlighting principles of modern, elegant and contemporary. There is an Atelier Lounge to showcase its eco-friendly collection, a dedicated workshop space to conduct exclusive workshops and activities for fashion lovers. In addition, their bespoke service allows customers to get oneof-a-kind design. South Korean actress Kim Tae Hee made a special appearance at the opening event.


Slurping down bubble tea on a hot day is one of the small joys in life. No brand is more popular with Malaysians than Tealive. It recently unveiled an outlet at Pavilion Elite to much fanfare. Head to the outlet to sample mouthwatering signature drinks such as Signature Brown Sugar Pearl Milk Tea, Roasted Milk Tea with Handmade Pearls (Sweet Potato), Signature Passion Fruit Green Tea and Grapefruit Chia Tea Booster.



Retail Industry 2016 Overview Retail Group Malaysia releases a sales outlook based on the industry’s performance in 2016.

he Retail Group Malaysia (RGM), the leading retail research consulting firm in this country, recently released its report for the Malaysian retail industry for November 2016. For this report, RGM collected feedback from members of the industry on their retail sales performances for the third quarter of 2016. Retail sales outlook was positive in the second quarter, when it was estimated that the third quarter would bring at least 5.9% growth in retail sales performance. This was due to the projected positive impact of the Hari Raya festival in early July, and also the implementation of higher minimum wages in the same month. However, these two factors were not enough to drive higher retail sales as expected. The third quarter registered an actual retail sales growth of only 1.9%. This was poor compared to the overall growth rate of the Malaysian national economy, which stood at a more moderate 4.3%. Overall, this has resulted in a meagre 1.6% retail sales growth rate for the first nine months of the year, compared to the same period last year. (Table 1)



Economic Indicator

1st Qtr

2nd Qtr

GDP (%)




Inflation rate (%)




Private consumption (%)




Retail sales (%)




Consumer Sentiment Index




Unemployment rate (%)




Source: MRA/ Retail Group Malaysia

The Goods and Services Tax (GST), introduced by the Government in 2015, may still be dampening retail spending, even after more than a year. While inflation has stabilised to 1.3%, significantly down from the immediate post-GST spike, the prices for foods, beverages, alcohols, and tobacco still increased significantly this quarter. Furthermore, the TABLE 1 : YEAR ON YEAR PERCENTAGE CHANGE Consumer Sentiment IN RETAIL SALES (WEIGHTED), 2015/16 Index fell several points to 73.6%, as Malaysians Type Period % Growth continue to worry about the rising cost of living and Retail Sales Jul-Sep 2015 1.6 future job prospects. This, coupled with a climbing unemployment rate of 3.5% Jan-Mar 2016 -4.4 this quarter, undoubtedly has caused Malaysians to Apr-Jun 2016 7.5 prioritise their spending which has led to less retail sales. (Table 2) Jul-Sep 2016 1.9

Jan-Sep 2016 1.6

Source: MRA/ Retail Group Malaysia

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3rd Qtr

MIXED PERFORMANCE IN SUB-SECTORS Consumer spending prioritisation is clearly

reflected in the performance of retail sub-sectors. Department stores, supermarkets and hypermarkets, and other specialty stores all recorded declines in retail sales this quarter, as consumers become more selective in their grocery shopping and delay purchases of large and specialty items. Unsurprisingly, the department store sub-sector, mainly stocking large and luxury goods, experienced the worst decline at 6.3%. The only sub-sectors that recorded positive growth were the pharmacy and personal care as well as fashion and fashion accessories sub-sectors. During hard times, consumers start taking more serious care of their health, and are also inclined to spend more on cheaper items such as clothes and accessories, that deliver instant gratification. Note that other sub-sector like wet markets and other non-permanent retail facilities, automobile and automobile accessories, and telecommunication service centres are not included in RGM’s analysis. (Table 3)


1st Qtr

2nd Qtr

3rd Qtr

Department store cum supermarket




Department store




Supermarket and hypermarket




Fashion and fashion accessories




Pharmacy and personal care




Other specialty retail stores





Overall (weighted) 5.5 Department store cum supermarket 3.4 Department store 5.4 Supermarket and hypermarket 4.3 Fashion and fashion accessories 9.2 Pharmacy and personal care 5.9 Other specialty retail stores 4.9 Source: MRA/ Retail Group Malaysia

FOURTH QUARTER UPTICK EXPECTED Despite the meagre performance of the third quarter of 2016, the overall outlook for the final quarter of the year is positive. It is projected that the fourth quarter will bring an average growth rate of 5.5%. The sub-sectors which suffered negative growth in the third quarter are gearing up for a turnaround in the fourth quarter. Department store, supermarket


Growth Rate (%)

First -4.4 Second 7.5 Third 1.9 Fourth


Whole year (e)3.0 (e) – estimate Source: MRA/ Retail Group Malaysia

Source: MRA/ Retail Group Malaysia

Retail Sub-Sector


and hypermarket, as well as specialty store operators are expecting their sales to return to black in the coming months. Fashion and fashion accessories stores are also looking forward to an increase in sales in the upcoming quarter. Most of this positivity can be linked to the Christmas and back-to-school shopping sprees expected in this period, as well as the increase in family outings to the shops during the school holidays.

The pharmacy and personal care sub-sector, which enjoyed the highest growth in quarter three at 10.2%, expects an only moderate growth of 5.9% during the final quarter of the year as sales begin to plateau. Taking the disappointing third quarter and hopeful fourth quarter into consideration, RGM revised its projected 2016 sales growth rate of the Malaysian retail industry slightly downwards, from 3.5% to 3.0%. (Table 4)

MODERATE OUTLOOK FOR 2017 The moderate performance of 2016 is setting up 2017 to be a rather meagre year for the retail sales industry as well. The first six months of 2017 should be especially challenging for retailers. The continued rise in the cost of living and an economy that is not expected to recover anytime soon will encourage Malaysians to hold back on their spending for at least the first half of the year. This is made worse by the continued weakening of the ringgit in the short term, which is expected to push up the costs of retail goods, especially imported ones. Retailers may be forced to increase their prices in the first six months of the year to keep up, further discouraging consumer spending. Hence, RGM projects an overall modest growth rate of 5.0% in retail sales for 2017, with significant recovery only expected during the second half of the year. (Table 5)

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MRCA’s 2017 AGM As the association turns 25 this year, the 2017 annual general meeting recorded the highest turnout and membership to date.

icking off one of the MRCA’s milestone events for 2017 was Sunsuria Executive Chairman Datuk Ter Leong Yap. Hosted by Sunsuria Bhd at its flagship development in Salak Tinggi on April 13, the AGM recorded the highest turnout in the history of the association.


Datuk Ter gave a short welcome speech, saying it was the most efficiently organised AGM for MRCA thus far. It was no wonder because the association currently has 385 members, the highest to date. The AGM continued with President Dato’ Garry Chua’s speech where

This year’s AGM had the largest turnout ever.

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he welcomed the President Council, Immediate Past President, associate members and all those in attendance. “2016 has been a great year for MRCA despite the many challenges we faced. We have scored many ‘firsts’ and I’m proud of the excellent results we have achieved. Not forgetting sponsors



MRCA 2017 AGM was hosted by Sunsuria Bhd.

Sunsuria Executive Chairman Datuk Ter Leong Yap received a token of appreciation.

who have supported us all the time, such as Sunsuria, and many others. “Of course none of our events were successful without our chairmen and chairpersons, who devoted their time and resources to ensure all the plans were executed perfectly. In appreciation, we held a Exemplary OC Awards during MRCA’s Chinese New Year dinner in February, thanking those who headed events such as Media Appreciation, Anniversary Dinner and Crown Awards, Charity Golf, Charity Run, CEO Night and CNY Dinner. He went on to gave a short description of the success of MIRF 2016 that was led by Dato’ Liew Bin, and other domestic and local business trips with

MRCA President Dato’ Garry Chua, addressing the members at the AGM.

MRCA members, as well as ongoing collaborative events and awards such as SOBA and McMillan Woods. Dato’ Garry also congratulated the numerous MRCA members who won awards, adding to the pride the association has for them. He then highlighted some of the anticipated MRCA events of this year. Among those are the CEO Night featuring Tan Sri A.K. Nathan, the MIRF 2017, MIRF Retail Conference 2017, Media Engagement and more. “Not forgetting the Anniversary Dinner and Crown Awards where we recognise the great work put in by our members in expanding their businesses,” he said.

“Once again thank you for all your support for MRCA and our activities. I hope you have benefited from them. I wish all of you a smooth year in 2017 and be in good health.” All resolutions and reports were passed without query. It was followed by short presentations by the Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC), the Digital Free Trade Zone’s working team and the Malaysia Productivity Centre. Later MRCA members were taken on a tour of Sunsuria’s Celebration Centre and the 160-acre Xiamen University in Sunsuria City. The evening ended with fabulous cocktails and priceless networking sessions.

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Unique Outlet Shopping Experience In Serenia City Horizon Group Properties in the US is bringing its brand of outlet malls to Southeast Asia.

et to open in mid-2018, the Horizon Village Outlets is a joint project between Horizon Group Properties (30%), United States’ third largest operator and developer of outlet malls, and Malaysian-based Mainstay Holdings (70%), while Nawawi Tie Leung Property Consultants is the marketing and Leasing Advisors. Horizon Group Properties President & CEO Gary Skoien and its Managing Director of International Business David Nelson unveiled the development to the Malaysian business and property media recently.


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Horizon Group Properties currently manages more than 3.5 million sq ft of retail space in 11 outlet malls in the United States. Malaysia is its first JV out of the US. In Malaysia, the Horizon Village Outlets, with a GDV of RM400 million, aim to offer a unique shopping experience that bridges European, American and the Malaysian cultures. Situated within the Greater Klang Valley, Horizon Village Outlets have good accessibility and connectivity, linked by ELITE Highway and PutrajayaCyberjaya Expressway with close proximity to KLIA and 40km from KL city centre.

Boasting an European styled architecture, the complex is positioned in the heart of the 2,370-acre Serenia City township. It caters to an estimated population of 7.7 million within a 50-minute drive time and an immediate population of 124,000 within a 10-minute drive, as well as a close proximity to Xiamen University that has a student capacity of 10,000. Spanning approximately 23 acres, the outlet mall has 400,000 sq ft of nett lettable area that will be home to over 150 retail brands and F&B outlets. “Horizon Village Outlets is Horizon Group Properties’ first venture in

“We are excited with the prospects of the outlet mall industry in Malaysia, looking at its robust domestic consumption and lifestyle-oriented shoppers.”

Malaysia and I am proud to say that this latest offering is a culmination of our extensive experience in developing and managing outlet shopping centres. “We are excited with the prospects of the outlet mall industry in Malaysia, looking at its robust domestic consumption and lifestyle-oriented shoppers,” said Skoien. “We were looking at an expansion outside of the US as the retail market there has slowed down significantly. At the same time, Sime Darby invited our company over to explore opportunities in Malaysia. I’m happy to say that it has worked out very well.” Designed by US-based Adams + Associates, the mall is modelled after a racetrack circulation design that encourages intuitive wayfinding by the shoppers. In line with its name – “Horizon”, shoppers will be spoilt for choice as the racetrack circulation architecture is designed to create maximum outlet visibility. In addition to this, the outlet mall promises global standards in fixtures and amenities. It will also feature an open-air ambience with weather-proof walkways. The design also ensures optimum air movement within the walkways and corridors for a cool and ventilated shopping experience. Shoppers and coaches will benefit from the covered underground parking and dedicated parking for coaches. However to further set itself apart from competition, Nelson said, “Apart from retail brands, the mall will have

Valiram Group commits 45,000 sq ft in HVO for brands: • Michael Kors • Kate Spade • Victoria’s Secret • Giuseppe Zanotti • Tumi • Swiss Watch Gallery • Tory Burch • La Martina • Charles & Keith • Bath & Body Works • Godiva • Flow • Pedro

tourism-based products and leisure attractions that will cater to tourists and locals alike. “Typically artisans have great craftsmanship and ability to teach but perhaps lacking in marketing strength. As part of our tourism segment, we can bring them together to offer domestic and international tourists a taste of Malaysiana under one roof. The experiential component is one of our hallmark feature in this project, taking up 40,000 sq ft.” Nelson also said the F&B component, called Festival Village, is another interesting feature, boasting of varied cuisines and vendors in an alfresco setting with performances and events in the evenings. The mall’s target retailers are those already operating in Malaysia while those interested to debut their brands and

businesses here will receive assistance and insight from the local team. The construction work on the project is in the piling stage as of early April. The Group is looking to attract 10 million in foot traffic annually, providing shuttle service from the nearest ERL train station and nearby hotels. Meanwhile, Skoien added that the Group will evaluate the company’s performance in Malaysia before looking to expand in ASEAN. “Malaysia is a good starting point for us as we find shoppers here very discerning and sophisticated. Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines are good countries to expand to, especially with their large population. “But right now, we are focused on ensuring the success of Horizon Village Outlets and giving our customers a unique experience when they visit.”

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Insights Into Retail Trends Organised by StrongPoint Asia, the region’s inaugural Retail Agenda Forum sheds light on the current retail and economy landscape, use of technology and best practices. The forum was officiated by the Swedish Ambassador to Malaysia, HE Dag Juhlin-Dannfelt.

he morning kicked off with a lively banter between StrongPoint SVP and Managing Director for APAC Roine Gabrielsson and Business Development Manager Daniel Tok, introducing the Retail Forum Agenda and the key speakers. Soon after, the forum held at the Grand Hyatt KL, welcomed HE Dag Juhlin-Dannfelt for some opening words. “I’m sure the first Asian Retail Agenda Forum will inspire new discussions about the industry and a source of innovative ideas. I’m honoured to be invited to this event by StrongPoint, which is a Norwegian-Swedish company. Within the Scandinavian countries, we tend to work closely together even if we might be competitors in some fields. “Meanwhile Malaysian-Swedish relations go a long way back. This year Malaysia will be celebrating its 60th year and next year, we will be celebrating a 60-year diplomatic relationship between the two countries. “Backbone of our relationship is trade. It started when Swedish companies open up in Malaysia, now increasing we see Malaysian companies in Sweden, something we warmly welcome and encourage. Do you know the first car ever built in Malaysia was a Volvo, likewise Ericsson played a crucial role in developing Malaysia’s


Attendees checked out some POS and cash management solutions.

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telecommunication and energy grid.” Juhlin-Dannfelt added that the Swedes have a great sense of pride having contributed to the Malaysian economy. The next speaker, Rafael Munoz Moreno, a Senior Economist at the World Bank, went into the nuts and bolts of Malaysia’s productivity, especially the challenges in the retail industry. He elaborated how Malaysia lagged a little behind Singapore, South Korea, Thailand and Turkey in terms of productivity while staying ahead of Indonesia, Chile, Brazil and other Latin America countries. Productivity in retail and wholesale segments hardly recovered after the Asian financial crisis in 1997, although the industry has been hiring more people each year and faring better than the manufacturing sector in the last couple of years. “These productivity issues arises not just because of the soft economy but also restriction on foreign service providers. Malaysia currently has more of such policies than other Trans-Pacific Partnership countries. In this case, free trade agreements may not be enough to liberalise the service industry in Malaysia. “Such restricted policies on the service industry makes it complicated for outsiders to invest in this sector, especially the shifting government

policies in the recent foreign labour issues,” he said. Next up is MRCA President Dato’ Garry Chua, whose presentation style was slightly different. In this case, it was a Q&A session with Gabrielsson. When asked about the recent launch of the Digital Free Trade Zone, Dato’ Garry said, “Malaysia has the foresight to start the first DFTZ in the world as the digital economy contributes about 17% to the national GDP. “However when you break down the numbers, e-commerce for retail is significantly less. Now more than 70% of the households are equipped with Internet connection, which has impacted retailers in a way. “Digital marketing is a double edged sword for retailers as there are plenty of brick and mortar stores still around. This will not go away. But be mindful that digital economy will be a huge thing in Malaysia. A good example is China, which has overtaken US in terms of digital economy, changing the way transactions are done. “Of course, concrete plans for the DFTZ is still being formed. For MRCA, we have a committee that will liaise with the government to ride on the digital. One is to ensure our members are not left behind, and two, to make sure we maximise the opportunities available.”

About 50 industry bigwigs attended the forum.

However, he pointed out retailers should not take light of the digital boom as examples across the world such as Walmart, Macy’s, Parkson in China and more were forced to closed down physical stores as consumers move to e-commerce. “Retailers cannot depend completely on e-commerce. An example is Alibaba that bought over physical stores across China; the omni channel will further boost one’s presence in the market,” he said, adding that retailers should look into opportunities provided by the halal sector. After a short break, StrongPoint’s Chief Technology Officer Evaldas Budvilaitis took to the stage to share the latest retail and shopping trends and how retailers need to transform their business to seize the opportunities. As part of his responsibilities, Budvilaitis visits NRF Retail’s Big Show 2017 in New York, Euroshop 2017 in Dusseldorf, Germany and many other retail technology exhibitions around the world. This year he noted that the trends veered towards store productivity solutions, artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics. One of the examples he offered were Amazon Go’s physical store where cameras pick up what you buy and charges directly to your Amazon account and monitor stock replenishment. Another is robots being deployed to circle stores, scanning shelves and possibly serving customers. There are also a revival of cash management solutions, self checkouts and so on. “Retailers should take note of these technologies, however, don’t forget the industry is people-centric. I don’t want to visit a store or supermarket and having to speak to a robot for

Dato’ Garry Chua with StrongPoint’s Roine Gabrielsson.

assistance. I would very much prefer to deal with people. “Retailers have to take stock of what they need and shop for the relevant technology. Not everything that is new is good, especially when your staff is not equipped to harness the technology. There is no one size fits all.” he said. His presentation nicely led up to the final speaker, Colin Tan, the former Regional Finance Director of Dairy Farm South Asia, where he spoke frankly on the conducting business in Singapore and ASEAN. He started out by saying the retail industry in ASEAN is heavily dependent on labour, manual processes, cash handling, reports and so on. “Keeping up with technology is expensive and difficult, especially for the big retail and supermarket players. As a result, ROI and projections are extremely challenging to produce. How can they justify the implementation of new technology? “Once the long period of implementation of new technology is done, there is something better. Not to mention, these technologies are often very expensive. “Another challenge in Singapore is the lack of customer service, even in premium supermarkets. If you can find the retail assistants, any question is greeted with a finger vaguely pointing to an area of the supermarket. I’ve noticed, customer service is among the last things retailers look at.” Tan added that Singapore too face labour issues as the government restricted the hiring of foreign labour. However, it did not account for the lack of enthusiasm among Singaporeans to actually work in the retail industry. He then elaborated on business

opportunities for retailers in the country. He suggested one of the ways retailers could shield themselves from the onslaught of e-commerce is by going fresh. “Fresh produce retail still very much depends on the feel, touch and smell. A trend that is taking shape in Singapore is getting produce direct from farm, bypassing the middlemen. The key focus should be on great quality and affordable pricing. Product knowledge and customer service will give you a competitive advantage over e-commerce. “Also being a part of a startup involved in this trend, we try to automate as much as possible, freeing the staff so they can focus on customer service. We also implemented real-time reports and immediate price changes. Key investments are, in order, cash management, electronic shelf labels, real-time POS and communication equipment.” Lastly, he said it is better and cheaper to invest before expanding the business. Gabrielsson concluded, “I am delighted that so many great people made it to our event. I am even more convinced now that the future of retail is exciting. I think you will agree with me that there are many interesting trends to explore for any size retailer.” The forum was attended by the top management of 7Eleven, EMart, The Store, Parkson, Tangs, Caring Pharmacy, Wesria Food, DR Group, Sen Heng Electric, Dairy Farm, Loob Holdings, Valirum, Watson, Isetan, Rhombus, YH Malaysia, Sri Ternak, Tesco, Deloitte, Dunkin Donuts, Bens Independent Grocer, QSR, TF Value Mart and Bison Consolidated. The Retail Agenda Forum will be back next year.

Some of the speakers and attendees during the coffee break.

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MIFB Engages Media Practitioners Malaysian media gets a sneak peek of leading F&B trade expo.

MIFB 2017 organisers have a networking lunch with the media to share what can be expected from the three-day fair.

n February 14, the 18th Malaysian International Food and Beverage Trade Fair (MIFB 2017) held a media launch and business networking lunch at the Grand Millennium Hotel, Jalan Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur with guestof-honour MATRADE Chairman Dato’ Dr. Noraini Ahmad. The event was to brief the media about the exhibition and what can be expected from the three-day fair. MIFB 2017, which will be held from August 9 to 11 at Putra World Trade Centre, is Malaysia’s longest running food and beverage industry event. MIFB spokesman said the trade fair will give you an insight into what is new and exciting within the food and beverage industry. These trends are based on developing and emerging consumer demand for products that are healthy, convenient and trustworthy and are informed by our work and association with producers, manufacturers, and clients across Europe, Middle East, Asia, Africa and US. “Consumer food and beverage trends will continue to evolve, develop and grow as the society gets sophisticated. The industry


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needs more process innovations to keep up with the increasingly well informed consumer demands,” said Elaine Chia, Managing Director, Sphere Exhibits Malaysia – MIFB organisers. MIFB 2017 expects to showcase more than 550 exhibitors from at least 40 countries. To-date, it has confirmed hosting Country Group Pavilions from South Korea, Thailand, China, Taiwan and Sri Lanka. “In recent times, we have been seeing an increase in consumer awareness. People are becoming more mindful of the issues with regards to social justice, specifically food security for all. “While premium food and beverages were on a fast rise in the recent years, the consumer push for value for all

income points is expected to encourage manufacturers to innovate and come up with healthy products at all price points.” This year’s focus will be on ready to eat, food ingredients, health and organic and halal food products. The Healthy and Natural Produce will be under the F&B segment that forms one of the three specialised segments of the MIFB series. The other two segments are Foodtech and Seafood & Fishery. This year, Sphere Exhibits is collaborating with Halal Media Japan to introduce a new segment called “International Halal Village” that promotes healthy and natural food. This halal village will host food producers and food experts from various countries like Japan, South Korea and Indonesia in Kuala Lumpur showcasing their halal products. This serves as a halal market platform and caters to the needs of the halal producers, traders and business leaders sourcing for products and looking for partners to expand their business. There will also be 10,000 to 20,000 products on showcase from various manufacturers, bakers, importers, exporters, caterers, butchers, restaurateurs, wholesalers, retailers, grocers, delicatessens, canned food, chilled and frozen food, dairy products, food ingredients, fresh produce, halal food, health and organic food, herbs and spices, meat and poultry, processed and convenience food, seafood, snacks, wine and spirits, confectioneries, chocolates, sweets, condiments and sauces, drinks and beverages, lab test, POS system, and more. Other highlights are business matching sessions, international and local VIP buyer programme, international conference on Food Marketing by the Malaysian Export Academy, food innovation network by Sirim and trade talks.



Importance Of An Audit McMillan Woods Malaysia’s Managing Partner Dato’ Seri Raymond Liew shares his views on the role of an auditor to a business.

chartered accountant, council member of both the Malaysian Institute of Accountants and the Chartered Tax Institute of Malaysia, Dato’ Seri Liew represents a number of public listed companies as the senior independent director and audit committee chairman. He has also been associated with the MRCA since the early years, providing audit advisory to the association. He also counts several MRCA members as his clients.


What role do auditors play in helping companies in the retail and franchise industry? Primarily, we can say that retailers provide goods and services to consumers, a B2C business, while franchisors and franchisees are two entities that have a long-term legal agreement with one another. One franchisor is able to sign with many franchisees, providing licence, which is a privilege, to conduct business in line with requirements from the franchisor. The role we play is in fraud detection, human errors, oversight, whatever form that may be. It is also a common perception that we are involved in fraud prevention which is not quite accurate. Auditors will only know of fraud after it has happened and later seek to rectify, address as well as avoid re-occurrences

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by recommending procedures such as proper internal system controls. But of course, auditors are also there to recommend good governance to organisations like MRCA. For starters, good governance and corporate governance are two different things, one should not confuse the two. Good governance pertains to the way a company, as a whole, directs and controls its institutional system, ethics and financial accounts. It also focuses on promoting transparency and fairness within the establishment by monitoring performance and accountability. In your opinion, what are the benefits of the new Companies Act 2016 for SMEs? I can tell you that there is only one benefit, the rest of the revamped Act are not benefits in the long run. First, the Act makes it cheaper and lower costs of doing business. The Act was revised because over the years SMEs have been complaining that doing business in Malaysia is simply too high, putting a lot of pressure on the Companies Commission of Malaysia to lower the costs. The new Act doesn’t require an AGM, instead the directors can just come together to make a decision on financial transactions deemed necessary. But this throws up the question of transparency

and accountability. If one director can make all the decisions, where’s the transparency? To me, it will cost more. Banks, partners and third-party collaborations will demand for a mandatory audit before they make any business decision concerning your company, especially in giving out loans. Also, the Act now says SMEs don’t require a company secretary to conduct name searches and for incorporation of companies. However, within 30 days after they are incorporated themselves, they must appoint a company secretary. This is one of the ways for SMEs to save initial cost. There is also no need for share certificates to be issued to shareholders. In the long-term, there will be gaping issues. For example, now only a single director is required. To me, it is a joke. If a company has a single director, what if something bad crops up? Directors are supposed to share penalties, fines and responsibilities. If you’re not around and yet being responsible for every aspect of the company, what will happen to your company? The revised requirement has potential technical issues, not something a layperson can navigate or manage. After all, a company secretary needs four to five years to master the technicalities. Even lawyers can’t handle these

technicalities, so how can a layperson make sense of it all? The reason why a company secretary is appointed is so you can run your business and leave the technicalities to a third-party. You may initially save RM50 or so a month by not having a company secretary, but there’s no one to remind you about annual returns, compliance and so on. On the other hand, the fines and penalties are hefty, it can run to tens of thousands of ringgit compared to engaging a company secretary for a small fee. If you’re really serious about running a business, you have to prepare to cover these costs. How has the GST implementation affected SMEs? And how can SMEs better manage it? GST is a tough regime in Malaysia. In my opinion, it is a killer to the economy. It is also one of the reasons why the economy is slowing down. It has signs of leading to an eventual recession if the government doesn’t pump in more money to rejuvenate the economy. Pertaining to GST invoices, SMEs have two options. One is to pay up when the invoice is issued although you have not been paid, another is to pay after you have received payment. The thing with the latter is you spend a lot of time monitoring the collection and payment. I would advice my clients to prepare to pay the 6% first, yes, it will affect your cash flow but the time saved is tremendous. Also in running a business, you have to ensure a strong cash flow. How can auditors help improve business/operation efficiencies? Company performance is critical as it determines your rate of survival and how much money you can make. However, profits and cash flow are not synonymous with one another. A company can be profitable but they can be cash deficient. This is what we call over-trading. Their cash is being held up by their trade receivables and customers. This is bad entrepreneur judgement. They want to sell a lot but cannot collect the money, eventually suffer a major cash flow choke and will not survive. My analogy is if you owe the bank RM100,00, they will chase you constantly to repay but if you owe the bank RM100 million, they need to take care, otherwise,

if you go bankrupt, you’ll be a part of their non-performance loans. The banks will then have a hard time. That’s the nature of business. Now, when you allow your customers to continuously owe you or have higher credit term, you will suffer because that will lead to them asking for discounts. If you don’t give the discounts, they continue to drag the payments. Lower sales, better cash flow. As the economy slows down, cash is king. If you have the cash, you have a better bargaining position. Auditors have to highlight the shortcomings to business owners, coming in with auditing procedures to address these issues. For example, if your credit terms of 120 days is too high, we would advise you to lower it to 30 days. Another important thing to note is that auditors would implement internal control systems to avoid or prevent fraud. Fraud can be in terms of banking, payroll, and more. The internal controls are to prevent the issues. Submitting the business for audit incurs costs and is feared by entrepreneurs. In an economic downturn, companies will cut their advertising budget to save costs. To me, it should be the reverse. If you’re the only one advertising, that shows the company’s strength and gives faith to the consumers. The knee-jerk reaction is a common mentality that many Asians have adopted. You need to manage costs not cut them, but at the same time, find ways to increase revenue. That’s a better way, rather than just cutting costs. What are the common audit pitfalls to avoid? Let’s look at GST implementation. This is an ongoing issue that many businesses are facing. It allows business owners or retailers to claim input tax. They collect tax on behalf of the Customs Department and you pay them. In return, you get to claim tax on the products you have to buy to off set against the products you have to sell. You might think, ‘that’s nice’. But if you wrongly claim input tax, the Customs is going to slap you with a hefty fine. If you’re late in GST submission, you get penalised again. Double whammy. What about charging the wrong GST

rate? People know it’s 6%, but some specialised services have different rates. On the GST payment, if your company earns below RM5 million, you go on a quarterly basis, above RM5 million, you go on a monthly basis. What if this month it’s below RM5 million and next month it is above RM5 million? You’ll need to project the business and apply before you exceed. Once you’ve exceeded but have not applied for GST, you’ll be fined. For retailers, tax estimation is important. You have to estimate your income 12 months in advance. If you underestimate, you’ll suffer a penalty. The onus is on businesses to tell the government how much is owed, not the way around. Having said that, these pitfalls can be overcome by having the right help. Don’t be penny-wise, pound foolish. The biggest cost in running a business is income tax, with almost a third going to the government. That’s a big chunk of your profits, yet business owners don’t see their tax advisers and accountants often enough. They usually meet once a year and boom, this is the tax you have to pay. Your accountant should be like your doctor. Find someone you’re comfortable and familiar with, able to communicate and someone who upholds confidentiality. If retailers don’t discuss issues with the accountants prior to taking up a contract or project that will make lots of profit, they will face penalty for lower tax estimation. Another example is when there is a tax audit, entrepreneurs just panic. Generally, it can be a desk audit or a visit to your office. Desk audit means that the IRB will write to you to get some information. Physical audit means they’ll show up asking for information and nose around the office. If it’s critical a desk audit will eventually lead to a tax investigation. It can come from third party or public tip-off to the IRB. Sometimes when you buy big assets, IRB questions how you can afford these items. So, you will have to provide the necessary information. If auditors do not disclose fraudulent activities to the authorities, you are then a party to it. The onus now also lies on the auditors, not just the board of directors, to disclose wrongdoings.

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KK Mart’s Annual Bukit Bintang CNY Celebration KK Group of Companies’ charity carnival brings smiles to the underprivileged. The event’s VIP guests at the Bukit Bintang Charity Carnival.

he 12th instalment of Bukit Bintang Charity Carnival was held in front of KK Super Mart Bukit Bintang on January 14 from 3.30pm onwards. The carnival brought happiness and warmth to more than 1,500 senior citizens, orphans, rehabilitated drug addicts, handicapped and the homeless. The main organisers were the Kuala Lumpur Chinese Assembly Hall and BB Charity Society, supported by Bukit Bintang Hawkers and Petty Traders Association. Federal Territories Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor was the event’s guest-of-honour. The theme for the day was “Precious Love”. In conjunction with Chinese New Year, the underprivileged received red packets and goodie bags. Dato’ Dr KK Chai – KL Chinese Assembly Hall President, BB Charity Society President and Executive Chairman of KK Group of Companies – said, “For the first time in 12 years, we


are giving out red packets and goodie bags to 1,500 people who need help. “This year’s atmosphere is definitely more joyful and happening than ever.” Also present at the event was MRCA President, Dato’ Garry Chua. In line with the spirit of 1Malaysia, the carnival hosted performances by local Chinese celebrities, as well as lion dance on high poles, Hakka songs from Fui Chiu Association, and Malay, Indian and Borneo cultural dances. Attendees and tourists also witnessed state of the art fireworks at the night of the carnival. The BB Charity Society was established in 2006, playing an active role in helping underprivileged communities in Bukit Bintang. It started with two key people – Isaiah Tan, a successful former drug addict with a big heart to help more people, and Dato’ Chai who encouraged him to form this association to make positive differences.

Charity carnival guests handing out CNY goodie bags to underprivileged children and senior citizens.

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Federal Territories Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor was the guest-of-honour.

Its other objectives are to reach out to the street community in the Bukit Bintang, Chinatown and Chow Kit areas, providing them refuge and rehabilitation, and to render assistance to homeless, drug addicts, physically handicapped, mentally challenged, single mothers and orphans. In the near future, BB Charity Society envisions to help and support more people in Greater Kuala Lumpur and surrounding areas, so that people from all walks of lives are able to live in good health and with dignity.

Low income families get Ceria card to qualify for discounts from 220 vendors.

ecently one million Ceria cards were distributed for free in Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya and Labuan, especially those living in public housing. The cards were distributed by the respective city councils and resident representatives. Previously, the card was issued in February 2015 under an initiative by the Federal Territories Ministry. Now, the rebranded discount card allows consumers in the federal territories to buy essential goods and services. It is a way to alleviate the financial burden of the low income families. Some 220 companies have signed up to offer a variety of promotions and direct discounts of up to 70%. Among them are 7-Eleven Malaysia Sdn. Bhd, Berjaya Hotels & Resorts, Berjaya University College of Hospitality, BORDERS, Kenny Rogers, KK Supermart & Superstore Sdn. Bhd, KLCC Food Truck, Menara Kuala Lumpur, Mydin Muhamed Holdings Bhd, Pusat Pakaian Hari-Hari, Radioshack, Rasa Utara, Singer, Wendy’s and more. Cardholders will also be able to enjoy discounts on the usage of facilities owned by the KL City Hall, Perbadanan Putrajaya dan Perbadanan Labuan.


The vendors will, in turn, receive discounts on business licence renewals. In February, Federal Territories Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor had said, “We understand the difficulties faced by the people and we feel this is one of the ways we can help to ease their financial burden.” He also said although the card was launched almost three years ago, it had yet to be fully utilised by the people and had to be upgraded and relaunched.

Federal Territories Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor launched the Ceria card.

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Discount Card for FT folks




How to Retain Loyal Employees All employers are concerned with employee retention. High attrition rates are disruptive to any business as the recruitment, training and merging process of new employees is expensive and time-consuming.

his is more so in the retail industry because the business is in direct contact with customers. Customers expect to be promptly attended to by a competent employee. If the business is always understaffed or have poorlytrained staff, sales will be lost. If that continues, the business may have to close down. Employees would always be looking for new opportunities with better prospects. However, a new job is also disruptive to the routine of the employee, so moving on is usually the only option when the present job fails to meet expectations.


Recruitment Process

Planning for staff retention starts

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with the recruitment process itself. Recruiters need to be trained to carefully select candidates who fit the job. The recruitment process should start with a job description accurately highlighting the qualifications, capabilities and experience required for the job. During this process, candidates should only be considered if they meet the minimum requirements. Recruiters need to also understand the expectations of the candidates – unless a significant portion of the candidate’s expectations can be met, they should not be recruited. Managers should also be trained to anticipate vacancies and initiate recruitment processes well in advance of actual vacancies. However, a well-structured recruitment process will not guarantee

that the candidate will be in it for the long run. It will only bring in a candidate that has a good chance of being happy in the job. Once in, the candidate then starts his evaluation process of the company and the job itself. Malaysia is already experiencing a labour shortage. With the government stepping up efforts to reduce dependence on foreign labour, this shortage could only get worse. Hence, employers need to be proactive and plan to make the work place an enjoyable, satisfying and rewarding place for employees to develop and grow. This will result in a win-win situation where employers enjoy high staff retention rates while staff are motivated to stay with the company for the long haul.


In general, employees’ expectations of their employer are common worldwide. The key factors may be categorised as follows:

01 Money



03 Growth

04 Trust

05 Contribution


Work-life balance

Basically, all employees consider the monetary rewards first. These will include salaries, overtime pay, allowances, commissions, bonuses, incentives, percentage of EPF contributions, increments as well as remunerations in kind like company trips, employee discounts and medical benefits. Of course, these will vary with the industry, location and individual businesses. Employers looking to retain staff for the long run need to offer competitive compensation packages and benefits.

It is important that employees are aware of what is expected of them. This starts with a clear and honest explanation of their roles and responsibilities at the interview, who they will be reporting to, what resources are available, and what are the company’s vision and goals. Employees also should be allowed to voice out their concerns, with clear lines of communication established for them to take their problems up the management ladder. Employees also expect to be recognised and praised for a task well done. Providing a mentor to help ease them into their job and the company culture would certainly help.

Everyone is looking for growth, and employees expect companies to help them to achieve their growth expectations. Otherwise, they will look at their job as a dead-end path. Companies should clearly spell out how an employee can progress in the company. Employers should also identify their employee’s talents and help develop them through training and exposure. This will go a long way in making the employees feel that he is appreciated.

All employees want to work for companies that they respect and trust. Companies should operate in a transparent and ethical manner, always respecting the environment and prevailing cultural and religious norms. Employees also expect employers to deliver whatever has been promised to them during recruitment interviews. Furthermore, they need to see and feel that they are being treated fairly in the company.

All employees at all levels want to contribute to the performance of the company. When their opinions are sought, and given serious consideration, they gain a sense of pride in themselves and this will spur them to be more productive. Employers should include employees in the decision-making processes, as often the person actually carrying out a task will know best.

These days, employees want fulfilment in their lives and they no longer want to be married to their job. Wise employers will allow employees the flexibility to perform without restricting their freedom to manage their personal lives. Staff will see this effort as that of a caring employer and this will only motivate the employees further.

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Communicative Leaders The importance of leaders with great communication skills rather than just barking commands. By Dr Victor S.L. Tan

hat the corporate world needs is less commanding leaders and more communicative leaders. Too many leaders are commanding others rather than communicating with others. They go around telling people rather than communicating with them. These leaders seem to think that in the digital age where speed is important, it justifies their action of simply commanding people to do things. Commanding leadership is not effective and it stresses members of the staff. A leader can use following eight ways of communication to enable them to get work done through others more effectively.


Communicating to Inform One of the basic functions of communication is to inform. People need to be informed on what they are to do especially on their specific roles and duties to prevent duplication of work. This type of communication needs to be done in a two-way manner with options for clarification from the staff. For detailed tasks, subordinates want to know to specific requirements, who is to do what, the rationale behind, the desired outcome and the deadline to enable them to do their work effectively.

Communicating to Teach Others While communicating to inform is about letting people know what to do, who to do what and when is the deadline, communicating to teach others is about getting them know-how to do the specific task or job. This involves sharing of knowledge and experience. It may also involves teaching and coaching. To be effective, leaders must be magnanimous in opening themselves up and teaching others all that they know.

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They must abandon the old “kung fu master thinking” where they only teach their disciples partially. A comforting reality for leaders is that as they teach others all they know, they can begin to delegate more of their tasks and free themselves to do more strategic tasks.

Communicating to Win Commitment Communicating to inform and to teach others will only address the “what”, who, when and “how “aspect of work.

It does not address why a specific task needs to be done. Without communicating the reasons, there will be little commitment for people to do the work. Communicating to win the commitment of people is crucial to ensure the task is done whole heartedly and which brings about the desired outcome.

Communicating to Build Team Spirit Communicating to build team spirit

57 not just communicate the tasks alone. He takes time to find out about his staff’s concerns and well being. He finds out what motivates his staff and what makes them happy and fulfilled in the workplace. He communicates to understand about them and at the same enable them to understand more about his leadership styles and his own concerns. He practises two-way communication to improve understanding and build better relationships with others.

Communicating to Avoid Misunderstandings

is critical when the task to be done requires the cooperation of individuals and parties. The best communication regarding team spirit is how leaders themselves at their level cooperate and work together. Action speaks louder than words. So leaders must think and act cooperatively with others to reflect the importance of team spirit. For example, inviting people from different units and departments to brainstorm, share ideas and work together on a project is a good way to start the process of sharing and cooperation.

Communicating to Show Appreciation There are leaders who are good in getting people to perform only for one cycle. Thus they get people to successful complete a project but their people are unable to repeat the spectacular

performance in the second project. The test of true leadership is the ability to sustain good performance. This requires leaders to communicate to people to show appreciation for their work done. Such leaders know how to recognise the good performers and encourage the poorer ones to perform better. These leaders take great care to make sure that what they do and say is fair for all. They stay away from practising favouritism in their words as well as their actions. They go around catching people doing the right things and are quick to compliment and encourage them.

Communicating to Improve Personal Relationships An effective leader focuses on a balance between being task-oriented and being people oriented. He makes sure he does

One of the dampers to productivity in the workplace is misunderstanding. Misunderstanding arises because of lack of communication. For example, when people are not informed about the rationale for certain actions by the leaders, they begin they assume and imagine the worst. For example, in a client company, one staff member was transferred to a new branch outstation due to her experience and competency and management believe she could contribute to the growth of the new outfit. As this was not communicated to her, she thought this was a punishment for something she had done wrong. A few months later she left the company. Peter Drucker said it best, “The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn’t said.” It is important for leaders to communicate properly lest their people are hearing the wrong thing of what is not said.

Communicating to Inspire Others Lastly but not least, the purpose of communication is to inspire others. It is one of the critical roles of leaders to inspire their people by sharing with them powerful stories and anecdotes to motivate them to achieve better results. Leaders who communicate exciting things in an enthusiastic manner help to reenergise their people to excel. Dr Victor Tan is an international change authority who undertakes change management consulting and seminars. For comments, email to victorsltan@klscc.com or text him at 012-390 3168.

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What Every Business Owner Should Know About Feng Shui Business owners can look into the influences of feng shui to ensure success. By Henry Fong

know not every one of you reading this article believes in destiny, luck and feng shui. Some of you may not share my beliefs and will likely disagree with what I have to say. But I have a request, read what I have to say with an open mind. Then form your own opinion. Before I got into feng shui consulting, I worked for more than 20 year in the information and communication industry. It was the glamorous name for computers and telephony. During this period, I remembered very working hard like most young men trying to build a career while making some money. I realised in some periods I seemed to be going nowhere while in some, I had achieve success. It was not that I was lazy and did not apply myself during the periods where my career seemed to be stagnant. Or that I work


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very hard and smart during those periods where I had great success. I was working just as hard! Later I studied Chinese astrology and came to realisation the period of career success coincided with the good career luck period in my chart and vice versa. Since then, I have read the charts of many people and found there are always correlation between the two. Good luck period brings more success, while bad luck period brings more challenges. Ask any astrologer and they will tell you the same. For business owners, more so future business owners, I recommend you seek the help of an astrologer to see if you have the potential to be successful in business. Some people are destined to have successful careers and this is usually reflected as having strong career potential. They do not necessarily have strong

wealth luck. Successful business owners should have strong wealth potential. They do not need to have strong career potential, although having it will increase chances of being successful in a big way. Next, look at your wealth and career luck at the time you are planning to embark on your business. Your wealth luck, especially should be strong. This will increase chances of success. Otherwise it is like sailing against the wind. What if your wealth luck is just so-so but you really want to be a business owner? I recommend you find a partner with strong wealth potential and strong current wealth luck who is compatible or will bring you prosperity. How can you know? Take his date and time of birth to an astrologer and he/she can tell you. Next is the type of business. Our


forefathers believed we can achieve greater success if we embark on a business that is compatible with our BaZi (of date and time of birth). In Chinese astrology, the type of business is classified by elements such as Metal, Wood, Water, Fire and Earth. For example, Metal is associated with the finance industry, iron foundry, jewellery and so on. Wood with education and furniture. Water with logistics and transportation. Fire with ICT and Earth with land, property, ceramics and more. Again, an astrologer can help you to find the “right” industry to be in. With destiny and luck out of the way, the next thing to look at is feng shui. Feng shui means “wind water” in Mandarin and is best described as a study of how we can influence our luck

positively or negatively by manipulating the environment we spend time in. Here our environment includes property, surrounding features such as the nearby mountains and rivers, direction the property face, internal layout and so on. Our forefathers observed, for example, you can have better luck if your property has a solid mountain at the back for support versus having a steep downwards slope. Or if the road or river at the front embraces your property. They also observed family relationships tend to deteriorate for those living in a big house situated at the top of a hill and exposed to the elements or located at the intersection of a busy T-junction. They observed, depending on your BaZi, certain property features can be

highly beneficial while some can be detrimental. The placement of your swimming pool or a tall tree near your property can exert some effect. These “rules” together with calculations form the basis of feng shui. There are simply too many rules and I cannot tell you all of them in a short article. The best thing to do is to consult a feng shui master. However, I would like to answer a very popular question on feng shui and it is, “Which is more important to feng shui, my home or my office?” Since feng shui is a study of how we are influenced by our environment, then the places where we spend most of our time matters. For most of us this include the home and office. For small business owners who operate from a home office, then the home (office) matters the most. While most feng shui theory will apply similarly for the home and office, there is one very importance difference. The home is essential a place for rest and to recharge oneself. It should be quiet and peaceful. The office, on the other hand, especially for retail outlets, should be bright, busy and prosperous. If you are planning to start your own business or face extraordinary challenges to your business, you may wish to look into the recommendations I have given above. If the above pointers makes no sense to you, it is okay too.

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One “Belt and Road” to World By Dr Oh Ei Sun

ust as Emperor Qin Shi Huang of China had once unified its vast territories, today, China has undertaken a new vision in unifying countries globally to join forces in economic cooperation and prosperity for all. During a recent MRCA meeting, Dr. Oh Ei Sun, adjunct senior fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS) at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore uncovered China’s strategic development plan, inspired by the ancient Silk Route, known as the “Belt and Road Initiative” with exciting expansions in various sectors that could spell opportunities for businesses in Malaysia.


THE “BELT AND ROAD” INITIATIVE When Chinese President visited Central Asia and Southeast Asia in 2013, he raised the initiative of jointly building the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road which together are known as the “Belt and Road” Initiative. For the ASEAN region, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang had emphasised on the need to build an ASEAN-oriented Maritime Silk Road during his address at the China-ASEAN Expo in 2013. The acceleration of the “Belt and Road” Initiative will promote economic prosperity of the countries along its developmental path as well as strengthen regional economic.

FRAMEWORK: WHERE THE “BELT AND ROAD” LEADS AND MEETS The Belt and Road Initiative runs through the Asian, European and African continent, connecting the vibrant East Asian economic circle at one end and the developed European economic circle at the other through land and sea. The land-based Silk Road Economic Belt focuses on bringing together countries along the original Silk Route, linking China, Central Asia, Russia and

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Europe (the Baltic) and also connecting China with Southeast Asia, South Asia and the Indian Ocean. Along the sea, the 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road is designed to cover China’s coast to Europe through the South China Sea and the Indian Ocean and from China’s coast through the South China Sea to the South Pacific, focusing on the cooperation between Southeast Asia, North Africa and Oceania. The objective of mutual benefits and common security are captured in three broad areas of development: a) regional infrastructural development of land, sea and air networks b) enhancement of trade and investment facilitations c) enabling different civilisations to learn from one another and flourish together The Chinese government has drafted and published the Vision and Actions on Jointly Building Silk Road Economic Belt and 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road to promote the implementation of the initiative.

CHINA’S COMMITMENT TO “BELT AND ROAD” China is committed to an “all round opening-up”, a strengthening of its collaborations to benefit countries in Asia, Europe, and Africa and the rest of the world. It welcomes companies globally to invest in China and encourages Chinese enterprises to participate in infrastructure construction and make industrial investments in other countries along the Belt and Road. Over the past years, President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang has been actively visiting many countries along the Belt and Road to discuss bilateral relations and regional developments. China has also signed MOU’s of cooperation and joint development of the Belt and Road with some countries in the sectors of infrastructure connectivity, industrial and resource development, economic and trade cooperation, financial cooperation, cultural exchanges,

ecological protection and maritime cooperation.

THE PRINCIPLES OF “BELT AND ROAD” The Belt and Road Initiative will abide by market rules and international norms. It gives play to the decisive role of the market in resource allocation and the primary role of enterprises while leaving governments to perform their due functions.

PRIORITIES OF “BELT AND ROAD” COOPERATION The priorities of this initiative spans across diverse sectors integral to regional and international development for the betterment of peoples across the Belt and Road countries. Its developmental focus are in the following sectors: POLICY COORDINATION – There is a need to build a multilevel intergovernmental macro policy exchange and communication mechanism that will enhance mutual political trust. Countries along the Belt and Road may coordinate their economic development strategies and policies, negotiate to solve cooperation related issues and provide joint policy support for large scale projects. FACILITIES CONNECTIVITY – Countries along the Belt and Road should jointly push forward the construction of international trunk passageways, linking up unconnected road sections, reducing bottlenecks, advancing road safety and traffic management. Connectivity enhancements would also include smoother land-water transportation channels, increase of sea routes, enhancing information cooperation in maritime logistics, improving civil aviation infrastructure and ensuring the security of oil and gas pipelines, building cross border power supply networks and powertransmission routes.




Harmony – China Paves the Way Cross-border optical cable networks can create the Information Silk Road besides improving satellite information passageways. UNIMPEDED TRADE – Countries along the Belt and Road should increase cooperation in inspection and quarantine, certification and accreditation along with establishing “single-window” customs in border ports. Enhancements can also be made on supply chain safety, cross-border supervision procedures, online checking of quarantine certificates and facilitating mutual recognition of Authorised Economic Operators. New growth areas of trade and cross-border e-commerce models can be explored by the speeding up of investment facilities, eliminating investment barriers and pushing forward negotiations on bilateral investment protection agreements with double taxation avoidance agreements to protect investors’ interests. FINANCIAL INTEGRATION Besides building a currency stability system, China will facilitate the establishment of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, propose the Silk Road Fund, and reinforce the investment function of the ChinaEurasia Economic Cooperation Fund and strengthen practical cooperation of the China-ASEAN Interbank Association. Qualified Chinese financial institutions and companies are encouraged to issue bonds in both Renminbi and foreign currencies outside China. Credit investigation and rating institutions can also create a cooperation mechanism of addressing cross-border risks and crises. PEOPLE-TO-PEOPLE BOND The diverse human capital and culture along the Belt and Road routes should be tapped for its potentials in education, arts, tourism, medical opportunities and even socio-political cooperation. They should promote extensive cultural and academic exchanges. China provides 10,000 government




“Roads, better harnesses for horses, time-keeping devices, financial instruments like a currency that was recognised everywhere in the kingdom, enforceable contracts – all of this made commerce more appealing than plunder.” - Steven Pinker, scientist and author of the upcoming The New Enlightenment

scholarships to Belt and Road countries annually. Great potentials exist in student exchanges, jointly running schools across countries, organising arts and film festivals, TV weeks and book fairs, joint productions and translations of fine films, radio and TV programs, and even joint applications to protect World Cultural Heritage sites. In tourism, they should ease tourist visa application procedures and even push forth cooperation on the 21stCentury Maritime Silk Road cruise tourism programme and tourism promotions in each other’s countries and supporting countries in their bid for hosting major international sporting events. The exchange of prevention and treatment technologies could facilitate the strengthening of cooperation with neighbouring countries on epidemic information sharing and to improve capabilities to jointly address public health emergencies, maternal and child health, disability rehabilitation, and traditional medicine. Lastly, countries along the Belt and Road should also promote friendly

exchanges between legislative bodies, major political parties and organisations, e.g. encouraging sister cities, cultural and people-to-people exchanges. Think tanks and NGO’s can organise public interest activities concerning education, healthcare, poverty reduction, biodiversity and ecological protection.

COOPERATION MECHANISMS FOR “BELT AND ROAD” The signings of MOU’s to develop pilot projects and improving joint working mechanisms together can even enhance the multilateral roles of existing mechanisms such as ASEAN Plus China (10+1), the AsiaPacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM), Asia Cooperation Dialogue (ACD), Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia (CICA), the Greater Mekong Sub region (GMS) Economic Cooperation, among others. Belt and Road countries should also encourage the constructive roles of international exhibitions such as the Boao Forum for Asia China-ASEAN Expo, China-Eurasia Expo, China International Fair for Investment and Trade, to name a few.

CONCLUSION In summary, the Belt and Road Initiative is open and inclusive. The development of the Belt and Road should mainly be conducted through policy communication and objectives coordination. It is a pluralistic and open process of cooperation which can be highly flexible. China will work in cooperation to improve the content and mode of this initiative, working out relevant timetables and road maps to align national development programs and regional cooperation plans. It is committed to work with countries along the Belt and Road to advance demonstration projects and accelerate the launching of bilateral and multilateral programs so as to ensure early harvest of this initiative.

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MRCA President Dato’ Garry Chua and guest-of-honour Second Finance Minister Datuk Seri Johari Abdul Ghani.

MRCA Celebrates CNY By Helping Others

The dinner raises money for the MRCA Branding Education Charity Foundation.

A yee sang tossing session with fellow guests.

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The Malaysia Retail Chain Association (MRCA) celebrated the Lunar New Year with a scrumptious Chinese New Year banquet that was graced by guest-ofhonour Second Finance Minister Datuk Seri Johari Abdul Ghani on February 8. Held at Sunway Resort Hotel & Spa, more than 850 members and guests from the crème de la crème of the retail chains industry attended this event to welcome the year of the “Fire Rooster”. The event also included fund raising singing performances and auction for the MRCA Branding Education Charity Foundation. The total amount raised that night was RM269,488. Brian Tham, organising chairman and MRCA Council Member, likened the banquet to the open house tradition hosted by Malaysians, which unites and strengthens the bond of friendship among people from all walks of life. Tham of Watatime (M) Sdn Bhd said: “This event gives the retail chain industry members and guests a golden opportunity to take a break from their busy work schedules and foster closer relationship with one another. It is a medium through which the people unite for the continuity of the country’s harmony and progress.” In addition, the night was supported by patron sponsors Maxis Berhad, Maybank Berhad, Fusionex and Mastercard.



Certificate of Appreciation was awarded to President’s Cup Sponsors.

The event’s generous sponsors included The Store Corporation Berhad (Platinum Sponsor), BGMC Corporation Sdn Bhd (Gold Sponsor) and Silver Sponsors were Optimax Eye Specialist Centre, Rivertree-KL Wellness City Property Development Group, Sovotel Malaysia and Sunway Pyramid. Under the initiatives and leadership of MRCA’s 2008-2010 President Dato’ Tay Sim Kim, the association raised RM1 million for the set-up of the foundation. The objectives of the MRCA Branding Education Charity Foundation are: • To receive and administer funds for medical, educational and charitable purposes. • To provide medical and surgical facilities and services.

Certification of Appreciation for Exemplary Organising Chairman.

Certificate of Appreciation was also awarded to recipients from the MRCA Branding Education Charity Foundation.

Standing, from left: Seak Thean Pow (MRCA Vice-President), Ricky Thye Kok Lam (MRCA Council Member) Dr Afendi Dahlan (MRCA Council Member) Dato’ Bruce Lim Aun Choong (MRCA Deputy Secretary General), Shirley Tay Bee Koo (MRCA Vice-President), Dato’ Eric Tai Lim Ping, Dato’ William Chow Ah Kau (MRCA Council Member) Dato’ Liew Bin (MRCA Vice-President), Alex Wong Che Sing (MRCA Council Member), Dato’ Winnie Lim Yoke Chin (MRCA Council Member), Edison Choon King Han (MRCA Council Member), Dato’ Dr. Chai Kee Kan (MRCA Vice-President), Dato’ Choi Wei Yee (MRCA Treasurer-General), Ken Phua Cheng Chuen (MRCA Council Member), Brian Tham Jee Ping (Organising Chairman) and Jeff Kong Jiang Foong (MRCA Secretary-General). Sitting, from right: Valerie Choo (MRCA Deputy President), Dato Mohd Nizar Mohd Najib, Dato’ Seri Ivan Teh (Fusionex), Dato’ Liaw Choon Liang (MRCA Immediate Past President), Dato’ Tay Sim Kim (MRCA Life Time Honorary President), Tan Sri Leong Hoy Kum (Mah Sing Group), Dato’ Garry Chua (MRCA President), Datuk Seri Johari Abdul Ghani (Second Finance Minister), Tan Sri Barry Goh Ming Choon (MRCA Advisor), Dato’ Eddie Choon (Founder President), Datuk Seri Nelson Kwok T.T. ( MRCA Life Time Honorary President), Datuk Albert Chiang (MRCA Life Time Honorary President), Datuk Lee Hwa Cheng (MRCA Life Time Honorary President) and Datuk Michael Kang (President of SME Association).

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Guests are dressed in traditional Chinese costumes at the dinner.

The God of Prosperity is distributing angpows.

Guests wishing Happy Chinese New Year.

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• To organise, carry out and support schemes for the relief of human suffering and treatment of sicknesses and diseases. • To assist, aid and give relief and to render financial assistance to the poor and needy. • To provide educational assistance to the needy and the most deserving students. In addition, MRCA also gives recognition fund to the children of members and staff who have achieved excellent results for UPSR, PT3, SPM and STPM.



Guests are delighted to wish each other happy Chinese New Year while catching up on networking opportunities.

Token of Appreciation to Event OCs • CNY Event – Shirley Tay • Installation Night – Edison Choon • Retail Conference –Dato’ Bruce Lim • MIRF – Dato’ Liew Bin • CEO Night– Datuk Henry Yip • Media Engagement – Shirley Tay • 24th Anniversary & Crown Awards – Dato Winnie Lim • VIP Charity Golf – Dato Eric Tai • Charity Run – Ricky Thye • Charity – Datin Flora Tan • Idris Jala Charity Live Talk – Ken Phua • President Cup Badminton – Terry Lee

Guests get to pose for pictures with the lion dance troupe and models in traditional Chinese costumes.

Token of Appreciation to: 1. Datin Jennifer, wife of Dato’ Eddie Choon 2. Datin Elaine, wife of Datuk Albert Chiang 3. Datin Eva, wife of Dato’ Tay Sim Kim 4. Datin Seri Carol, wife of Datuk Seri Nelson Kwok 5. Datin Joyce, wife of Dato’ Liaw Choon Liang 6. Datin Isabelle, wife of Dato’ Garry Chua

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MRCA pays a visit to the needy during Chinese New Year.

MRCA Brings CNY Cheer To Needy Seremban Folk

MRCA donates cash and goods to the Tong Sim Old Folks Home.

Senior citizens receive goodie bags.

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An entourage from the Malaysia Retail Chain Association (MRCA) led by its principal office bearers brought cheer to residents at the Tong Sim Old Folks Home in Seremban where they distributed ang pow and entertained them with popular Chinese New Year songs. Led by its president Datuk Garry Chua, the group distributed household items, groceries, vitamins and supplements to the residents. “The Chinese New Year season is a time to give and share with the needy and we hope to do just that,” he said. The home’s founder David Chong had sent an appeal for financial help, highlighted by The Star newspaper. He also runs a funeral parlour and has been managing the home single-handedly in the rented premises since 2004. The home has 13 residents who suffer from mental illness, dementia or age-related illnesses. Organising chairman Datin Flora Tan said she visited the home after reading about its plight in the newspaper early Dec 2016. “After the visit, we decided to help



Lending Pang Family A Hand in Rembau In conjunction with Chinese New Year, MRCA, on February 16, paid a visit to the Pang family in Rembau, who are in need of some cheer and help. The family of seven was involved in an accident when a car rammed into their pickup truck. Two were killed, three were critically injured while the rest were hurt. The modest family had to fork out a lot of money to pay for their medical bills. The MRCA team donated a total of RM16,100 in cash and groceries to help the family through the hard times. In attendance were organising chairman Datin Flora Tan, Dato’ Eric Tai, two secretariat members and MRCA Youth members. The MCRA came across the plight of the Pang family after The Star reported it recently.

MRCA members visit the Pang family after their accident, bringing cash and groceries.

The home residents are teated to lunch with help from MRCA members.

in any way we could. We are grateful to our members who have donated generously.” Dato’ Tay Sim Kim, Founder Chairman of MRCA Branding Education Charity Foundation, MRCA Deputy President Valerie Choo and MRCA Council Members, MRCA Youth and Members were also in attendance. The MRCA Branding Education Charity Foundation donated RM10,000 in cash and goods which consisted of the home’s one-year rental, ang pow, a new sofa set and goodie bags. In addition, the home also received donations from MRCA members: • Hap Seng Star Sdn Bhd – RM5,000 cash • Transtel Technology (M) Sdn Bhd – ang pow and goodie bags • DF Pharmacy Sdn Bhd – health supplements hampers • MRCA Youth, Ng Ti Kheng – cushions and thermal flasks • MRCA Youth, Calvin Lim – groceries Total donation from MRCA and its members was about RM18,000.

MRCA’s CNY visits are part of its CSR activities.

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MRCA Pays A Visit To Fusionex Fusionex was recently welcomed as MRCA’s Corporate Patron so it was only right for association members to pay them a visit. Key Fusionex personnel took the entourage for a walkabout in its office in Petaling Jaya. Fusionex is an established multi-award winning IT software group that specialises in analytics and big data. Its business is to help clients manage, make sense of and derive useful insights and information from the vast amounts of structured and unstructured data at their disposal, which retailers under MRCA can utilise. Fusionex is also focused on bridging the gap between business and technology, and in doing so, providing an exceptional and positive experience to customers of various markets. Among its many awards are MRCA Crown Awards 2016 for Outstanding Excellence and Microsoft’s Global Partner of the Year. The MRCA members were impressed with the facilities and looked forward to leveraging on Fusionex technology to propel them in the future.

The MRCA delegation are given a familiarisation tour at Fusionex, its Corporate Patron.

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MRCA Deputy President Valerie Choo and MRCA President Dato’ Garry Chua lead a delegation to Fusionex.



CEO Bryan Loo with his staff.

Loob Holding Takes TeaBrewing To New Heights Loob Holding Sdn Bhd, the team who spawned a new tea culture in Malaysia by introducing Taiwanese bubble tea in 2010, recently unveiled Tealive as its brand to take tea to greater heights. CEO Bryan Loo unveiled the brand at its Pavilion KL outlet on the exact spot where he first introduced brewed tea six years ago before going on to open 165 outlets by the end of last year. “Pavilion KL holds a special place in my heart. It was here six years ago that I operated the first kiosk to brew tea for Malaysians. With that, we introduced a brand new tea culture to Malaysians. “We have come quite far and we serve two million customers every

From left: Datuk Henry Yip, Bryan Loo, MRCA Deputy President, Valerie Choo and Edison Choon at the launch.

month. Yet today is also a new beginning – the start of a brand-new journey to make tea great again.” Present were council members of the Malaysian Retail Chain Association (MRCA) led by Deputy President Valerie Choo, business partners, associates and scores of invited guests. Loo said Tealive is a fast moving lifestyle beverages company. Tealive is a homegrown brand. Once the brand was unveiled, scores of Loob Holding staff surged forward to join Loo and Choo for a group photo in front of the new Tealive outlet to signify their “unitea” as they prepare for the next stage of their growth journey. Loo then walked the media through the tea-brewing process and served the first cups of Tealive Signature brown sugar pearl milk tea to Choo. “We are proud to launch Tealive, a brand that will make tea great again.” said Loo. “In many ways we’re very start-

up spirited – we always like to try new things and new ways of doing things.” Consumers will find friendly faces at Tealive outlets serving them their favourite beverages. Loo said Loob Holding currently has 10 brands under its belt with five of them from four franchisors in Thailand, Spain, Japan and Taiwan. He added that the company would now focus on moving forward in its growth story with its 1,000-strong workforce already serving two million customers each month. “Let me record my deepest appreciation for all the support, encouragement and motivation shown to us by our business partners including mall owners, our two million over customers and all Malaysians. “Many of you offered words of encouragement without our asking. We are indeed touched. Together with our team and working partners, we have today arrived at this brand – a whole new brand which will take tea culture to the next level.” To celebrate the launch, Tealive offered an introductory promotion. February 18 until 22, anyone buying a Tealive drink from 1pm to 6pm got another drink free. Loob Holding manages a portfolio of 10 F&B brands in Malaysia, namely, Tealive, Tino’s Pizza, Soda Xpress, llaollao, Gindaco, Croissant Taiyaki, Hacha Mecha, IKKI, Define: food and Neighbourfood (tech app), along with technology start-up investments in the pipeline.

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Seminar On Staff Motivation Some 100 participants, representing MRCA member companies turned up on February 28, 2017 to join the “5 Practical Ways to Motivate & Manage Staff to Achieve Greater Sales” seminar. Led by Aaron Lee of 1Training Worklife Management, the full day event covered an extensive range of programmes such as “employee motivation”, “creating responsible work environment”, “manage different types of staff”, “encourage new mindsets for better achievements” and “how to create a service culture for greater sales”. He went on to talk about the characteristics of an effective team, how to best assess a team’s performance while identifying dysfunctional teams, and Tuckman’s model. Participants got to know about establishing good teamwork, and using praise and rewards to enhance relationships between team members. Not forgetting, is the team EI (emotional intelligence). Emotional intelligence impacts greatly on personal and team goals, and the trainer shared many ways on how to build a positive EI. Lastly, five key principles of team connection were revealed, pointing to how a strong, close-knit teams are able to achieve better success than those who have weak relationships. The participants were taken through various team exercises to ensure that they can replicate what they learnt in their existing work environment.

Participants are from MRCA’s member companies.

Participants are divided into groups to carry out some exercises.

It was a large turnout at the talk!

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On March 19, MRCA President Dato’ Garry Chua was invited to give a keynote address at the sales gallery of Tropicana Metropark in Subang Jaya. It was a delightful afternoon as about 50 investors and homeowners were introduced to the new 88-acre development and a scrumptious lunch. Dato’ Chua graciously shared his many success in property investment especially when buying in Malaysia. He also offered many tips about buying property in Australia, a place he has invested in over the years. Incidentally, the Tropicana Metropark design is based on Melbourne’s Yarra River, where there are lush greenery as part of its surrounding. The overall design concept of Tropicana Metropark


MRCA President Shares Life Learning & Property Investment Tips Dato’ Garry Chua and some of the VIP guests at the Tropicana Metropark sales gallery.

also garnered an award under Commercial Landscape Architecture Malaysia at Asia Pacific Property Awards 2014/2015 season. It has residential towers, business spaces, retail hotspots, recreational areas and a Central Park. In his speech, Dato’ Chua advised the visitors to pick properties that are developed by trustworthy and reputable developers to ensure that the project will be completed in due time. He also mentioned that in some areas, smaller units then to sell better with higher ROI than large bungalow units. Many of the attendees found his talk to be refreshingly honest and helpful.

Dato’ Garry Chua giving honest investment advice.

Participants learning about Budget 2017.

Budget 2017 & Finance Bill Talk Having a good understanding on the country’s annual Budget is pertinent for retailers and their staff. It will help with formation of business strategies and decisions. Presented by YYC Group’s CEO Datin Yap Shin Siang, key decision makers and finance managers turned up to find out

for themselves the latest tax updates and changes outlined in Budget 2017. Held on January 13, 2017, 10am12.30pm, participants learnt how to optimise budget incentives for local SMEs, which will help in corporate tax planning, GST implementation and the adherence to the new Companies Act 2016. It is hoped that the participants also picked up some tax saving tips from Datin Yap.

Datin Yap presenting her talk.

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72 Events

Update On Social Media Trends In an effort to provide insights into social media trends and digital marketing, the MRCA Academy has hosted a session with speaker Fione Tan of eOneNet.com on November 25, 2016, 10am-12pm. Participants were enlightened with information on the exponential growth

Bina Puri Celebrates CNY With YYC In conjunction with the recent Chinese New Year, YYC hosted an open house with co-organiser Bina Puri. The event was attended by YYC clients, employees and their families. “The reason why we have this open day is to get closer with our clients, colleagues and also because we have recently launched a new programme called Relationship Manager. “The purpose of this programme is to further strengthen our relationship with our clients” said Datin Yap Shin Siang, CEO of YYC Group and Managing Partner of YYC & Co. Together with Bina Puri, the venue was setup in Laman Vila, a new development built to cater to a prestigious community in this highend neighbourhood, this freehold development comprises 22 landed garden villas and eight units of three and four-storey low-rise villas.

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Bina Puri Norwest Sdn Bhd Chief Operating Officer Lee Tong Leong said, “The total gross development value (GDV) for this project is approximately RM101 million. “Our unique selling point for this project is the provision of a solar photovoltaic power system. We are able to generate electricity from the sunlight and sell it back to Tenaga Nasional Berhad. With this, we will offer our future homeowners here 10 years of free maintenance fees,” said Lee.

of social media, especially among Malaysians. As retailers, it is pertinent to know how to leverage on this growth. Traditional marketing and advertising need to be revamped to reach out to the new generation of customers who are more comfortable shopping online. The Academy will continue to organise such sessions so staff of member companies will be upto-date on the current online trends.




Local footwear and handbag brand has instant public recognition. NOSE is a global ladies fashion footwear and handbag company born in Kuala Lumpur in 1999 by creative duo – Edward Yee and Sue Koh. The brand introduced myriads styles that are hot off the runway, with high street prices for the sexy, chic and smart modern women. After only 10 years, the brand became the name on everyone’s lips everywhere in the world, since its presence has been into multinational fashion retail stores across the continents and the online stores that ship globally. Currently it maintains 10 outlet stores in major shopping centres across Malaysia. In 2008, it expanded to the Middle East, where it has franchised seven stores in in the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

NOSE outlet at Sunway Pyramid.


Sphere Exhibits Malaysia is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Singapore Press Holdings, with SPHERE stands for Singapore Press Holdings Events, Roadshow and Exhibition. It aims to be the leading MICE company behind exciting and innovative fairs, shows, events and exhibitions for all trade and consumers businesses in Asia. In line with the company’s plan for growth and continued expansion, it will allow exhibitors and partners to select from a range of events and exhibitions to develop their business ideas and expansion initiatives. Backed by a committed and experienced team of professionals, these events will not only draw local audiences but also regional participants. Sphere Exhibits is committed to building memorable and quality events which will be founded on research, planning, an established network of resources, and a creative but solid imagination. This commitment will result in a greater mileage for its exhibitors and partners. Among its exhibitions are the Facon Education Fair, Smart Kids Asia, MIFB and Food Processing & Packaging.

Malaysia Retailer Vol 5 No 2



SnT Asia’s Outsourcing Innovator


SnT Global Logistics has the capabilities to deliver integrated logistic services that incorporate overall logistics distribution and supply chain execution such as order-fulfilment, transportation and warehousing. They are equipped with the technology that enhances supply chain services with performance metrics tied to strategic business and customer’s satisfaction. Their clients will have the benefit of reduced inventory, lower transportation costs, tighter delivery schedules, less damage to products transported, thus enhancing business value resulting in improved shareholder value. In addition, they offer highly customised ecommerce order fulfilment solutions to promote online retail and provide innovative last mile fulfilment services enabled by state-ofthe-art technology to meet the fast-changing consumer needs.


Jesselton Waterfront Holdings Sdn Bhd is a premier property developer in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah. They are known for building exceptional and premium properties in beautiful locations in the seaside city. Among their noteworthy projects are Jesselton Residences, Jesselton Mall and 56-storey Jesselton Twin Towers. Currently under construction, Jesselton Mall is strategic located in the heart of Kota Kinabalu’s central business district. It aims to attract existing population catchment, especially office workers and Jesselton residents. The retail outlet mall is perfect for those in the food and beverage industry, fashion boutiues, beauty outlets and lifestyle stores. Situated right at the waterfront, mall-goers get to shop while enjoying an unparalleled view of the ocean.

Malaysia Retailer Vol 5 No 2





23-27 APRIL







13-16 JULY

MIRF 2017











24 MAY



10 NOV








Malaysia Retailer Vol 5 No 1




MRC 76

Malaysia Retailer Vol 5 No 2

Profile for Harini Management Services Sdn Bhd

Malaysia Retailer|Vol 5|No 2|2017|Dato Chew MPAY BERHAD  

Malaysia Retailer, the official magazine of the Malaysia Retail Chain Association (MRCA), is a one of a kind retailing, franchising and bran...

Malaysia Retailer|Vol 5|No 2|2017|Dato Chew MPAY BERHAD  

Malaysia Retailer, the official magazine of the Malaysia Retail Chain Association (MRCA), is a one of a kind retailing, franchising and bran...