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Vol 7 No 3 2019

MRCA Retail Conference 2019: SMEs Forge Ahead in New Era of Retail

From Springs Apple Vacations’ Success WM RM9 / EM RM11

Dato Sri Koh Yock Heng, Group MD of APPLE



MRCA Retail Conference 2019: SMEs Forge Ahead in New Era of Retail

EVENTS 26 Focus Point Lifestyle Retail Outlet Opens at AEON Mall Nilai



Park@City Pharmacy Opens New Outlet in Uptown Damansara

MRCA Academy Churns Out Quality Programmes

32 Monthly Meeting



Malaysia Special Project & Business Networking Dinner

Industry Leaders Share Gems of Wisdom in Rockin’ Talk 2.0

34 New Members

35 Calendar of Events ON THE COVER


4 From ‘Omotenashi’ Springs Apple Vacations has moved with the times in offering customers amazing travels. Innovation and customer service are pivotal to its success, says Group MD Dato Sri Koh Yock Heng.

10 MRCA Retail Conference 2019: SMEs Forge Ahead in New Era of Retail

Photography: YC Chu

Malaysia Retailer Vol 4 No 1

Monthly Meeting

Apple Vacations’ Success


Dato Sri Koh Yock Heng, Group MD of APPLE


16 Industry Leaders Share Gems

of Wisdom in Rockin’ Talk 2.0

18 Tap on Digitalisation to Spur Industry Growth

22 MRCA Academy Churns Out Quality Programmes

24 RHB Launches Connected

Banking Ecosystem for SMEs

30 AmBank Partners CGC to Provide RM30 Million for Start-Ups

31 AmBank’s Financing Solutions for SME Businesses


Malaysia Retailer Vol 4 No1




Springs Apple



From holidays on sunny beaches to walking amid ancient ruins and, its newest product, visiting ‘the last unchartered land on earth’ Antarctica, Apple Vacations has moved with the times in offering customers amazing travels. Innovation and customer service are pivotal to its success, Group MD Dato’ Sri Koh Yock Heng tells RACHAEL PHILIP. here are many definitions for the Japanese word omotenashi. A quick substitute for the word in the English Language is hospitality. Another explanation tells us that ‘omote’ means public face, the image you wish to present to outsiders, while ‘nashi’ means nothing. Put together it implies service that is honest and from the heart. “Omotenashi is about doing things invisibly with great attention to details,” offered Group MD of Apple Vacations and Conventions Dato Sri Koh Yock Heng, fondly known as Kohsan. “For instance, you remove your shoes before entering a Japanese establishment but when you get back out, you notice that your shoes have been placed in the correct place and arranged neatly. Or take the presentation and packaging of Japanese food. You would be amazed at the amount of details that has gone into it,” he said. Kohsan has a long-drawn love affair with all things Japanese. This affection for the country was perhaps fuelled during his university days in the early 1990s. Kohsan, together with hometown buddy Dato Sri Lee Ee Hoe aka Leesan, partner and Group Executive Chairman, studied at the Tokyo International University, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Economics. “Both of us speak fluent Japanese. We had the same dream to start a travel agency and


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launched our company in 1996. It started out doing mainly Japanese tours. Today we are the biggest Malaysian player in leisure travel to Japan,” said Kohsan. Today the Apple Vacations, headquartered in KL and with branches in Tokyo, Singapore and Jakarta, offers a one-stop travel solution from ticketing to accommodation, insurance and travel consultation to almost anywhere in the world.

INNOVATION IN TRAVEL “We started as a basic tour company but soon learned that people wanted a deeper experience – not just nice hotels to stay in and amazing sunsets,” said Kohsan. The advent of information technology saw an increasingly educated and talented world. While the advancements in IT helped the industry develop and grow to where it is today, it has also seen customers’ travel requirements change drastically in the last 10 years. “We are offering service beyond customer expectation, with thematic and in-depth tour packages,” he said.

CUSTOMER CENTRIC “As such we had to innovate and to come up with new products. Just like all industries in the service line, we had to be customer centric, and find out what customers want, not what we



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6 Feature

Hokkaido, during the winter. To date, it has taken over 2000 passengers on the trip and this December it celebrates its 10th year of continuously providing this service. The company’s Antartica tour is priced at roughly RM60,000 per person, and is gaining in popularity. Kohsan explained that people are willing to fork out that much because it is seen as a once in a lifetime trip. The 17-day trip kicks off at Buenos Aires, Argentina. Travellers then make their way right to the southernmost tip of the South American mainland, Tierra del Fuego. From here begins the twoday ice-crushing cruise via Cape Horn to Antartica, where travellers can get up close with life and the ecosystem on the continent. Another popular holiday takes travellers out to Lake Baikal, located in the mountainous Russian region of Siberia, north of the Mongolian border. It is considered as the deepest lake in the world and during winter it is completely frozen. “You can drive your car or hovercraft right on it or do some fishing or barbeque. This is innovation. It is one of those places that are not easy to reach but we make it happen. We make people’s dream come true. As tour consultants, we make the impossible possible,” said Kohsan.


want to sell to our customers. We had to research on their interests, popular tours, leisure activities and what makes a memorable experience during a trip. At the end of the day we want to give our customers a better travel experience.” Apple Vacations branched out into small customised tours of special interests such as cycling, mountain climbing, religious and thematic tours such as architecture and rail travels. Besides this it was also imperative that the company opened up new travel destinations. Some years back it launched a new travel package that takes guests on chartered direct flights into Chitose,

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“We make people’s dream come true. As tour consultants we make the impossible possible.” – Group MD Dato Sri Koh Yock Heng

With all these destinations at his disposal, one is naturally curious about Kohsan’s favourite destination. Kohsan said he has travelled to 50 countries, a modest figure compared to partner Leesan’s list of 123 countries. Kohsan’s favourite destination – no prizes for guessing – is Japan. Besides the culture and the people, he enjoys the four seasons and many more. “I’ve not travelled that extensively but I like Japan very much. It offers good food, hot springs, nice people and, of course, omotenashi. “Malaysian travellers need to change their mentality especially when it comes to food. We are so used to good food in Malaysia at very affordable prices but in countries like Finland, one plate of fried rice can come up to RM200. As a traveller you have to realise that your currency is small. In a foreign country you must adjust yourself accordingly to suit the local environment. They must



Loyalty and Reward Apple Vacations and Conventions launched its Apple Vacations App as a multitasking platform for its customers to receive first-hand information, such as the latest travel information, update on travel packages, promotions and the latest deals, at their fingertips. The Apple One Club, meanwhile kicked off two years ago. The loyal programme allows customers to collect points which they can use to exchange for merchandise available at the Apple Vacations office. Here, one area of the office, looks like a gift shop with glass windows, where an assortment of more than 300 SKUs of travel paraphernalia, such as bags, luggages and IT gadgets are stocked up. Apple Vacation customers also get discounts and special birthday treats. Along the years Apple Vacations has garnered numerous awards, namely top agent from airlines, The Star Best Brand Business Awards, the Best Outbound Agent from The Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA), Product and Business Service Excellence from Sin Chew Business Excellence Awards SCBEA, as well as regional awards. The most notable award for them all is the Imperial Decoration Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Rays bestowed by the Emperor of Japan in 2015. This was in recognition of the company’s longstanding contributions in the development and promotion of tourism between Japan and Malaysia. Talking about challenges of the business, he stressed that the focus are on customer centric and product differentiation.

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change their mindset in order to enjoy your holiday.”

CHALLENGES The company’s market positioning is to offer better quality products for travelers. This category, for whom travelling is already a part of their lives, is looking for better experience tours, said Kohsan. As such catering to this category means that the company cannot lax on innovation. This has helped Apple Vacations advance as a pioneer in the market where new products are concerned. While the developments in digitisation has helped travellers gain better insights into their holidays and destinations, it has also proved to be a challenge for the operators.

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“When we first started, the business was offline. Holidaymakers had to go to a travel agency to book a travel package. Now with digital equipment, the Internet and Youtube, the travel industry is facing tough competition with OTAs. OTA is very popular. It is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. “We believe the younger generation, with their financial limitations, will seek out budget travels, but the demographics after that, who are more settled down, may prefer GIT.” GIT, or group inclusive tour, as opposed to FIT, or free independent traveller, is best for people who want to travel hassle-free, with pre-planned everyday activities. A tour consultant is indispensable here. They can add value to your holiday or travel experience.

Tour consultants at Apple Vacations undergo 160 hours of training, which includes internal training, tour leader training and customer service training. They must be able to handle all the questions from customers, ranging from tour product knowledge and many more. They also have to think of the safety of customers, and a plethora of other tiny details. “For instance, if you are travelling to Russia with your children you must bring their birth certificates to prove that they are your children. So it’s a very tedious and detailed industry.” And here is where the omotenashi comes in. With travelling being a lifestyle today’s tour consultants must be professionals and holiday packages must be planned to perfection. “People want more sightseeing, good food, shopping and better traveling experience. They are looking for ‘experience’ tours. They want to physically do something. Some people don’t know what they want. Here is where a well-known agency like us can make the difference. “How do we stand out? It is not in the pricing but in product value, content of tour, better hotel and food, arrangement, quality tour leaders, and tour managers, and the tiny details that go into all of these. All this contributes to a better travel experience.”

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Malaysia Retailer Vol 7 No 3



SMEs Forge Ahead In New Era Of Retail The MRCA Retail Conference 2019 gathers some of the most innovative and inspiring entrepreneurs. It provides a roomful of business owners valuable insights, tips and strategies to embrace in order to compete in today’s dynamic marketplace. t is exciting times for the retail industry. In an unprecedented way the industry showed incredible tenacity and bounced back after what was known as a global Retail Apocalypse, the phenomenon that refers to the decline of traditional retail in the face of digital commerce. In the wake of this, a new retail world order has taken shape. Retailers of all kinds had to either expand their traditional brick and mortar footprints into the digital marketplace, expand to overseas markets or consolidate in order to remain competitive. Even malls had to evolve from merely being places to shop to offering a well-rounded shopping experience for consumers. The MRCA Retail Conference 2019,


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held in conjunction with MRCA’s Malaysia International Retail and Franchise 2019 on July 18-20 at KLCC, captured the happenings of the global and local retail scene. With the theme Retail Strikes Back, the event attracted over 500 participants. The organising committee, led by Dato’ Bruce Lim and Nicholas Chong, assembled a line-up of entrepreneurs who inspired the participants with their talks. Meanwhile, president of MRCA Datuk Seri Garry Chua said the association has an obligation towards the industry, community and the public to organise the MRCA Retail Conference to create exposure and opportunities for collaborations, partnerships and networking. “I also believe that it is our

responsibility to govern and ensure that all parties in the retail and franchise industry have a fair chance in the marketplace. We hope with this initiative we are able to assist the growth and development of the retail and franchise industries. He also thanked MRCA partners, sponsors, the retail industry, the public and the media for their support over the years. The event highlighted three stimulating panel sessions, namely New Retail Model, Retail Space Transformation and Battle of Bubble Tea. These sessions centred on discussions within the retail sector and equipped participants with the necessary knowledge on ways to capitalise on the current retail atmosphere.


EMBRACE DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION Deputy Minister of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs (KPDNHEP), Chong Chieng Jen, officially launched the Malaysia Retail Chain Association (MRCA) Retail Conference 2019 at Pavilion Hotel Kuala Lumpur. He said in his speech that retailers must embrace innovation and digitalisation, seize opportunities and adapt to the changing retail landscape. Retailers must also improve their productivity by leaps and bounds or risk being phased out. “I am glad this conference is organised. Over the years it has shared success stories, experiences and knowhows that have helped the industry grow. In this way stakeholders can prosper together and at the same time uplift the country,” he said. “The government too has a role to play. Digital systems and e-commerce need infrastructure, and the Ministry of Communications and Multimedia has doubled the speed and halved the price of connectivity. My ministry deals with the last part, which is when consumers come into play. “Laws and policies facilitate the doing of business. We welcome your ideas and suggestions.” He elaborated on the popularity of convenient stores as opposed to hypermarkets, a trend brought on by the change in consumer behaviour. Convenience stores are up trending by

Datuk Seri Garry Chua, MRCA President, addressing the audience.

Deputy Minister of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs (KPDNHEP), Chong Chieng Jen.

The deputy minister receives a token of appreciation from Datuk Seri Garry Chua. Also on stage are sponsors of the event.

The conference saw presentations that were relevant to the current issues.

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12 Feature

It was all ears and full house at the Retail Strikes Back conference.

Country Garden Holdings Company Ltd, Country Manager, Sandy Wu.

Dato’ Bruce Lim and Nicholas Chong of the organising committee.

format called SenQ, to embrace the digital transformation, to go paperless and to embrace New Retail. He said it was tough introducing and seeing through the various transformation ideas. They were costly and some of them didn’t even make sense at the time but in order to survive it was imperative to do the research, bring in the experts and the new technology. “Pure online is over, likewise pure brick and mortar. The seamless model of New Retail – online, offline, logistics and big data – is the way to move forward. Omnichannel allows customers to make their own decisions,” he said. Country Garden Holdings Company Ltd, Country Manager, Sandy Wu said Beletime Danga Bay is slated to open in December 13 2019. The mall will be the closest mall in proximity to Singapore. Among the main attractions will be anchor tenant AEON’s premium supermarket; boutique cinema Womei with nine halls and 1100 seats; a family theme park called LCE House offering real snow experience; art, handicraft anf education experience; Food Paradise; and an internal design landscape featuring a marine theme. She said malls today have to reinvent themselves into social spaces. In order to rise above the competition, malls must provide an all-encompassing experience that can take families, young people or even the individual through various activities over many hours.


Loob Holding CEO Bryan Loo sharing his plans for his company.

meeting the needs of consumers with good product display, face lifts and competitive prices. “Today there are many convenient stores and they can leverage on economies of scale, adopt new technology and business intelligence in order to target their customers.” This kind of openness to change especially in the face of difficult times is what makes a company great. The first speaker of the day, Senheng Electric

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(KL) Sdn Bhd Managing Director Lim Kim Heng not only shared his experience but also his strategies for surviving in the age of the New Retail.

CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT Lim detailed the six ways his company transformed to emerge as a strong electrical products retailer, namely to duplicate his stores in order to establish a chain store, to develop fixed price in all his stores, to create a second store

The New Retail model offers many opportunities and should not be seen as a threat. In the case of Malaysia, the opportunities is ample and the room for growth wide. This was the takeaway from the first panel session entitled New Retail Model. It was moderated by real-estate entrepreneur Datuk Seri Dr Vincent Tiew Soon Thung. Those on the panel were PrestoMall CEO Cheong Chia Chou, Shopee Malaysia Head of Business Zed Li Zongyin, Green Packet Group MD and CEO CC Puan and Singapore-based cryptocurrency exchange Tokenize Xchange founder Hong Qi Yu. Cheong has the distinction of heading Malaysia’s home-grown online mall. PrestoMall’s ecosystem of shopping,

services, e-wallet and credit services it further enhanced with the company’s services, namely movies, games, air tickets, food delivery and more. Zed Li, in his introduction, said Shopee is equipped to help SMEs conquer not just Malaysia but also southeast Asia. In a recent development, he said, Malaysian makeup brand Simplicity has come onboard and is growing in Indonesia. In ecommerce, CC Puan said Malaysia is only functioning at 10%. If previously we didn’t have the technology to expand in this area, today industrial revolution 4.0 is here. “It is a matter of how to adapt and to work seamlessly between the new and the existing way of doing business,” he said. Qi Yu highlighted some common problems facing cryptocurrency investors. Currently there are 32 million people who own bitcoin wallets but they find that there are limited places to spend their crypto currency. Also the process of withdrawing the crypto currency is tedious. “Cryptocurrency investors can spend their earnings at your outlets. Our industry can help retailers lower their business costs and increase their revenue,” he told the participants. On the popularity of loyalty cards, Qi Yu said they will soon be digitalised as it has become increasingly cumbersome to keep numerous cards. To a question on cash back, he said instead of cash back investors want to spendability, usability and earnability.

WHAT MATTERS TO CONSUMERS? In his presentation PointStar CEO, Justin Lee, gave some interesting figures to demonstrate the mismatch between retailers and consumers. He was while 73% of retailers believe that the environment in retail stores has become more inviting in the past five years, only 45% of consumers agree. About 80% of retailers believe that consumers feel more welcome if instore staff interacted with them more, however, only 46% of consumers agree. Almost all retail executives thing that engaging with customers on social media is important to building stronger relationships with them, only 12% of customers think it has significant impact on the way they feel about a brand.


This panel session focused on retail space transformation.

The first panel session studied the new Retail Model.

In terms of technology, Justin said self-checkout kiosks, virtual reality try-ons and mobile payments are the top technology advancements that consumers want to utilise when shopping in store and online. In conclusion he said consumers look forward to a simple and streamlined future. “Build a unified shopping experience for your consumers, have a 360-view into both customers and your business across all channels, have a single commerce and management system for real-time insights into customers, inventory and sales,” he said. “Finally, make 3As – automation, analytics and artificial intelligence – work in your favour.”

RETAIL SPACE TRANSFORMATION The second panel session, moderated by Chris Tan of Chur Associates saw some heavyweights in the shopping malls segment, notably Pavilion KL

CEO Retail Dato’ Joyce Yan and Sunway Malls and Theme Parks CEO HC Chan. They were joined on stage by Sandy Wu and HLA Malaysia Director Alf Bao. Dato’ Joyce kicked off the session by offering some priceless advice. She said while pre-development planning is important, post-development planning should not be neglected. “The ever-changing retail landscape means that malls will face vacant spaces from time to time. Space also has to be redefined. While it was common to say space equals money, it is preferable to think of space as value. It is important to create value out of spaces. Less is more, for instance luxe brands create ambience. Communication is important. Both tenants and landlords are sitting on the same side. Let’s be fair to each other. Instead of maximisation of space opt for optimisation of space,” she said. HC Chan said one important direction the Sunway Malls took was to drop the word ‘shopping from its name

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Senheng Electric (KL) Sdn Bhd Managing Director, Lim Kim Heng.

Sunway Malls and Theme Parks CEO, HC Chan.

Pavilion KL CEO Retail, Dato’ Joyce Yan.

Participants gather a host of information and ideas from the speakers.

as 75% of retail space today is about the experiential, F&B and other segment. “Malls are still relevant. F&B space now takes up between 20-35% in our malls. This cannot be duplicated with e-commerce. The zoning of space in a mall has worked well for Sunway Mall. The Asian Avenue Concept is still standing. It has undergone a number of changes and innovations,” he said. In his advice to tenants, he said customer service must be improved and tenants must think about sustainability issues. The current mall trends show that malls are under pressure due to technical advancements and changing shopping trends. Sandy Wu said it was important for malls to create a platform for customers. “Physical retail space must offer something that online retail cannot offer,” she said adding that it is important for operation teams to work with tenants to talk about their business and how the owners can help retailers increase their business. Alf Bao said HLA Garment opened its first international store two years ago and picked Malaysia as its first international location. Today it has 30 outlets in Malaysia and 7000 worldwide. “One of the challenges we faced in

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Malaysia was on sizes. So we adapted and introduced XS to XL. Customers are smarter. They are looking for value for money. We must constantly improve ourselves,” said Alf.

SUSTAINABILITY AND COFFEE Gloria Jean’s Coffees was founded in 1979 in the US. It is now owned by a prominent retail food player in Australia. Malaysia acquired the master franchise rights for Gloria Jean’s Coffees Malaysia in 2006. It also owns the master franchise rights for Malaysia, Brunei, Indonesia and Myanmar. A short video featuring Iranian Australian businessman Nabi Saleh, CEO and international executive chairman of Gloria Jean’s Coffees, showed how the brand is doing business in a more sustainable and responsible way. According to Nabi, the company buys from suppliers located all around the world and from different farms of all types and sizes that look after both their workers and the environment. It has put plans in place to reduce the impact of its packaging on the environment.

THE RISE OF BUBBLE TEA In the final panel session, moderator Michael Teoh, founder of Thriving

Talents, looked at the phenomenon that is the bubble tea business in Malaysia. Once again, an exciting line up of panellists took to the stage, among them The Alley CEO Ng Ching Wai; YFS Corporate (M) Sdn Bhd CEO Nicholas Chong who owns Ji Long Tang Dragon; Derek Cheong, co-owner of Collab Working Lifestyle, which is Xing Fu Tang’s master franchisor in West Malaysia; and Black Whale Malaysia CEO Dato Calvin Chan. The panellists concurred that the craze for the beverage, which kicked off in 2010, is not just about a cup of beverage. It is a trend and a culture. Ng Ching Wai said a bust is unlikely to happen soon as the potential is still growing. “Despite the stiff competition, sales are not affected. We have to educate Malaysians in making the change from mamak to bubble tea.” Derek said sales are increasing and the business is sustainable. It is a culture that has been in place in Malaysia for more than 10 years. “Our better living standards and even the lifestyle in rural areas can sustain the bubble tea business. With good market planning, tapping into all ethnic groups and ages, our sales will keep rising,” he said. Nicholas said the bubble tea market, valued at USD 49.8 million last year, is a jackpot to most of the players. Demand is fuelled by social media. “Many Malaysians who have travelled to Taiwan come home and develop a craving for the beverage. Our volume grew to more than 1000 cups a day per outlet. We cannot rest on our laurels. We have to work hard on R&D.” The need to focus on R&D is real as there are currently many shops within the same location offering similar drinks with only a slight variation in taste. The panellists were led to reveal their unique selling point. Calvin said the Black Whale’s strategy of the cooking its brown sugar in front of its customers lends a distinct flavour to its sales. Derek said Xing Fu Tang does continuous R&D. Its handmade pearls offer food safety and sustainability. Ching Wai said the Alley looks for trendy locations to promote their drink. Branding is taken very seriously. It has also done crossovers with GrabFood and Shopee. Nicholas said Ji Long Tang Dragon uses sugar from Okinawa. A lot of emphasis is placed on its pearls, which are soft, tender and chewy.


Panel members receive a gesture of gratitude.

Panel members receive a gift from the organising committee.

Deputy Minister Dr Ong Kian Ming receives a token of appreciation.

Deputy Minister Dr Ong Kian Ming witnesses the handover of the Retail Career Pathway Handbook.

TEA IS OUR LIFE According to final speaker of the day, Loob Holding CEO Bryan Loo, Malaysia has a strong tea drinking culture. For decades Malaysians get their fix for tea at the local mamak shops. “Tea from the mamak is generic. The mamak offers no branding. We are trying to cultivate a modern tea drinking lifestyle.” Bryan whose local-born Malaysian brand TeaLive is today present in the UK, Australia, Brunei, Vietnam and Shanghai. It has 322 stores worldwide with 1714 staff, sells 40 million cups and more than 800 tonnes of pearls annually. It has 761,000 loyalty members. “Our loyalty programme has given us a keen understanding of our customers,” he said. The company recently invested in a tea dispensing system that allows its staff to face their customers and interact with them when making tea. “This is a first in the industry. Another first for us in the industry is capitalising on the health trend. We offer supplements in our beverage such as antioxidants, proteins, energy and collagen to boost daily nutrient intake,” he said. The company is also hoping to produce its own pearls out of its Malaysia manufacturing plant. Besides

this it has introduced a versatile menu and will soon have a total of seven formats of stores, including a drive thru, to cater to a variety of customer needs.

BIG OPPORTUNITIES As the closing keynote speaker, Deputy Minister of International Trade and Industry Dr Ong Kian Ming said new retail offers tremendous opportunities for entrepreneurs. He outlines three opportunities captured from his observations in global trends:

Deputy Minister of International Trade and Industry Dr Ong Kian Ming.

• The O2O movement initially meant offline to online. Today is can also mean online to offline, said, quoting the example of online behemoth Amazon buying over Whole Foods, the grocery company, in 2017. • Marketing and customer relationship can be further enhanced with the help of social media. Big Data analytics can be used to understand customers and market trends. • Fintech and mobile payment is the way forward. Entrepreneurs should embrace the many mobile payment platforms such as Grabpay and Boost to draw in customers. He also witnessed the handover of the Retail Career Pathway Handbook developed by the Productivity Nexus for Retail and F&B to the Human Resource Development Fund represented by CEO Elanjelian Venugopal, and leading retail associations such as MRCA, Malaysia Retail Association, Malaysia Franchise Association and Bumiputera Retail Organisation. The handbook will form the basis of human capital training and certification, which is supported by HRDF. It is part of the effort of the Nexus, led by the Associations to professionalise the retail industry consistent with the National Productivity Blueprint. Malaysia Retailer Vol 7 No 3



Industry Leaders Share Gems of Wisdom in Rockin’ Talk 2.0 IBrick and mortar or online presence? Restaurant cashiers or self-pay kiosks? Cash or cashless? The frontrunners in retail and F&B tackle these questions in a panel session. he retail landscape has changed dramatically in the just one decade. If 10 years ago the physical presence of a store was imperative to the success of a company, today an online store is just as crucial. Businesses today are also keen to embrace digital technology to help them grow and to serve their customers better. According to Datuk Seri Garry Chua, president of MRCA, Malaysian companies that have survived the test of time have had strong leaders who painstakingly invested in their companies. “Many successful Malaysian brands such as Focus Point, Padini, Poh Kong, Osim and Bonia started off small. Today, they have developed their


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brands and grown into big chains. Some have started franchising. If you have a strong name, franchising is a fast way to expand and to gain market share,” he said. Datuk Seri Garry was a panellist at the Rocking Talk 2.0 held in June in MAHSA University. The talk was organised by the Productivity Nexus for Retail and F&B, Malaysia Productivity Corporation and supported by F&B Connects. Other panel members were Datuk Ringo Kaw, CEO of Asian Kitchen and owner of Atmosphere360, KL Tower, Puan Chan Cheong, Director of G3 Global Bhd, which recently tied up with China’s artificial intelligence giant Sensetime, and George Ang, CEO of A&W Malaysia Sdn Bhd. Datuk Seri Garry, who is also the group executive chairman and

founder of The Imperial Chakri Palace, acknowledged that running an F&B business is challenging. About 30% of businesses do not survive the first year while 60% of new restaurants close shop within the first three years. “The digital world can make things easy for SMEs. Retailers must engage with apps such as WeChat and Alipay. Augmented reality is another area that can give convenience to customers,” he said. Citing the example of Walmart, the world’s largest company by revenue, which now has an online presence, and Amazon, originally a tech company that moved into brick-and-mortar last year, he said that the trend today is to have a presence in both spaces. He is also seeing this trend among Malaysian retailers. Another powerful app to tap is the food delivery channels such as GrabFood and Foodpanda. “Consumers are becoming more demanding. They want things fast. These apps provide consumers with convenience. You don’t have to go to the store, the store will come to you.” To a question on how the MRCA is helping retailers adopt digital technology, Datuk Seri Garry said technology adoption is a top priority of the association. “We have many digital companies as members such as Lazada, 11th Street (now called PrestoMall) and Lelong.

We are constantly looking at new apps and facilities. We can open big doors for our members. Digital companies are welcome to engage with us.” Datuk Ringo Kaw, meanwhile, stressed that in the F&B business people comes first. Besides serving good food, it is also crucial to for a restaurant business to know their customers and to give them a memorable experience. One of the challenges facing the industry is manpower and good service. “We have good food but we can’t give customers good service. The solution is in the form of digital technology. We can use AI to recognise our regular customers and we can use data to know their preferences,” he said. In the restaurant business it is also important to incentivise staff and to offer promotions and special deals to customers. George Ang is no stranger to the F&B industry. He is one of the founders of Manhattan Fish Market and the director of Revenue Valley Sdn Bhd, which operates MFM, Tony Roma’s and NY Steak Shack in Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand. He is tasked with reviving A&W in Malaysia. “In the last eight years A&W has stayed stagnant. Despite this it is a strong brand. People come up to me and say do a good job because of the strong feelings they have for the brand,” he shared. The key to running a successful restaurant business is to localise the foreign and to “foreignise” the local. For instance, when he created the Manhattan Fish Market 20 years ago, he was mindful that branding the company in such a way would sell it. “If I called it Melaka Fish Noodles, it would not have worked. Likewise

McDonalds’ in Malaysia offers nasi lemak and ayam goreng, items you cannot find in their outlets in the US. Technology has worked well for the food industry. He noted that restaurants that have done away with the cashiers and installed self-ordering and payment kiosks have seen their “average check” time increase 10-12%. Upselling was more consistent at the kiosk than with a staff. “If I have a staff, I will have to pay a salary increment every few years but with technology and hardware, it only gets cheaper,” he said.

“With A&W we are hoping to go cashless soon. We are also working with disruptors like Grabfood and Foodpanda. We have just hopped on to these delivery platforms and our sales went up by two extra stores, without opening two extra stores.” AI cameras, meanwhile, is a powerful tool for retailers and shopping mall operators. Puan Chan Cheong, better known as CC, from G3 Global Bhd, and founder and former CEO of Green Packet Bhd, said AI cameras can capture images, do face recognition and promote relevant products to customers or potential customers. When introduced at carparks, mall patrons can look forward to cardless, cashless and hassle-free parking. “Is this intrusive? Google is doing it all the time. People want personalisation, and AI can customise offerings to suit our taste buds,” he said. On the question if it was expensive to adopt digital technology, CC said it is increasingly affordable. With the AI cameras, which are currently undergoing pilot testing in some malls, clients only pay a monthly subscription of between RM199 and RM399 to receive data about their customers.

50 Local SMEs Partner JD.com The world’s third largest internet company by revenue after Amazon and Alphabet, JD.com, is set to make its mark in Malaysia through its Growth Malaysia Pavilion on its JD Worldwide platform. Fifty Malaysian enterprises under the F&B Connects have committed to partner JD.com through its structured retail solutions programme. The Pavilion is part of the enterprise level initiative by the Productivity Nexus for Retail and F&B, Malaysia Productivity Corporation and supported by F&B Connects. This event was witnessed by Deputy Minister of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Chong Chieng Jen. The Deputy Minister was present to officiate the Nexus’ second Rockin’ Talk on Retail and F&B held at The Ballroom, Mahsa University. The talk featured speakers Alexander Kremer, senior manager and Lionel Jin Chentian, manager at JD.com, as well as a keynote by Datuk Wan Latif bin Wan Musa, CEO of Matrade. During the event a talent development initiative to recruit, train and place students for internship or work in retail and F&B industry, known as “ClickED” was also launched. This will ensure that talents have the right attitude and skills for the workplace, boosting productivity and reducing reliance on foreign labour in the service industry. The ClickED programme saw the cooperation between 36 polytechnics and 42 community colleges, the Ministry of Education, MAHSA University, SEGi University, Inti University, Koperasi Graduan Malaysia together with the MRCA, SME Association of Malaysia, Malaysia Entrepreneur Development Association, Malaysia Employer Agency Association and F&B Connects.

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Tap On Digitalisation To Spur Industry Growth In today’s world digitalisation is an important ingredient for success. Companies that have not adopted information technology in their processes risk being left behind. n 2017 SMEs made up 98.5% of all business establishments in Malaysia, and contributed 37.1% the country’s GDP. This is expected in rise to 41% by 2020. SMEs also employed twothirds of all workers in Malaysia and made up 17.3% of total exports. Despite its large contribution to the economy most Malaysian SMEs have not subscribed to the digital technology agenda. Businesses that are unprepared for digitalisation will not be able to


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compete effectively, and risk being left behind by those equipped with the right culture and expertise to provide products and services in today’s world. In his opening remarks at the Malaysia SME Business Summit in June 2019, Tan Sri Datuk Ter Leong Yap, President of the Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Kuala Lumpur and Selangor (KLSCCCI), stressed that manufacturers must push towards the adoption of Industry 4.0. “Only 300 SMEs have signed up

for the Readiness Assessment by the Ministry of international Trade and Industry (MITI),” he said. On the Chamber’s part, Tan Sri Ter said KLSCCI is pushing for more soft grants, the setting up of a foreign labour management system and for the Reinvestment Allowance to be extended to 15 years.

SCHEMES TO BOOST DIGITALISATION Guest of honour, Minister of Finance

“Theme of the Malaysia SME Business Summit, “Transform, Innovate and Elevate”, is appropriate, given the challenges SMEs face amid the digitalisation pressures. I hope this summit will help you find new ideas and new ways to do business,” – Lim Guan Eng, Minister of Finance of Malaysia


“We are also working with UOB to help provide mentorship through the Jom Transform programme, which helps SMEs adopt digital technology to drive productivity and growth.”

“We’re confident the (industry) sales from online retail is going to be double-digit growth every year as more brick and mortar retailers go online.” – Datuk Seri Garry Chua, MRCA President

– Tan Sri Datuk Ter Leong Yap, President, Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Kuala Lumpur and Selangor (KLSCCCI)

Lim Guan Eng, meanwhile, said the government is nudging SMEs towards the adoption of new technology including artificial intelligence, automation, big data and robotics by launching a number of schemes and funds, such as: • A RM2 billion guarantee scheme via Syarikat Jaminan Pembiayaan Perniagaan Bhd; • A RM3 billion Industry Digitalisation Transformation Fund under Bank Pembangunan Malaysia Bhd; • A RM1 billion Sustainable Development Financing Fund from Bank Pembangunan for companies that fulfil the criteria set by the UN Development Programme on sustainable development; and • A RM1 billion Tourism Infrastructure Fund from Bank Pembangunan. He said the Government is also boosting support for innovating new fundraising methods such as equity crowdfunding (ECF) and peer-to-peer (P2P) financing. “We have committed RM50 million towards a co-investment fund (CIF) for ECF and P2P investment for microSMEs.” Malaysia, he said, has been acknowledged by IMD as the 22nd most competitive economy out of 63 countries this year. The World Bank lists Malaysia as the 15th easiest place to do business.

“Our current competitiveness has enabled Malaysia to benefit from the ongoing trade war between China and the US via business relocation, as well as trade and investment diversion. This can be seen when approved foreign direct investment for all sectors in Q1 2019 rose 73.4% to RM29.3 billion from RM16.9 billion a year ago. “The approved FDI increase was driven by a 127% manufacturing investment surge to RM20.2 billion, compared to RM8.9 billion a year ago. Out of the RM20.2 billion in approved manufacturing FDI, RM11.5 billion came from the US and RM4.4 billion originated from China.” The local economy is also growing. The industrial production for April 2019 rose 4.0% year-on-year after increasing 3.1% in March. The April industrial reading is above the 2.5% increase projected by the market. GDP also grew 4.5% in Q1 2019, above the market projection of 4.3%. “We cannot depend merely on trade and investment diversion to fuel our growth because it is short-term in nature. Our goal is first, to defend our relevance to the global supply chain. Second, to make our economy the essential manufacturing base in the new, reoriented global supply chain. To achieve the second goal, we need to encourage innovation and

entrepreneurial economy among our population. I believe we can do this by engaging in a 4P partnership between the public sector, the private sector, the people and the professionals. “We should all come together to leverage on the strength of our universities to create an entrepreneurial state. To support new economy innovators and entrepreneurs, we should create one-stop centres near universities providing access to the patent office, trade bureau and financing office, and start-up incubators and accelerators. “The clustering of services through one-stop centres near universities should help innovative entrepreneurs bring their ideas to the next level in a collaborative way, and make our economy not just as an economy of consumers, but an economy of high-tech producers.” Lim Guan Eng said the theme of the Malaysia SME Business Summit, “Transform, Innovate and Elevate”, is appropriate given the challenges SMEs face amid the digitalisation pressures. “I hope this summit will help you find new ideas and new ways to do business,” he said.

RETAILERS GROW MARKET SHARE FOR ONLINE BIZ In his address MRCA President Datuk Seri Garry Chua, said that despite the growing importance of e-commerce

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brick-and-mortar stores will not totally lose its appeal. He added that like most industries, digitalisation can make things easy for retailers. “Today’s retailers are engaging companies such as WeChat and Alipay. This is one way we can attract Chinese tourists. Besides these apps, MRCA retailer members also benefit greatly from networking with our members who run digital companies such as Lazada, 11th Street and Lelong,” he said. He said the association also works closely digital players to increase the market share for online trade. “We’re confident the (industry) sales from online retail is going to be doubledigit growth every year as more brick and mortar retailers go online,” said Datuk Seri Garry who added that the retail industry is expected to grow by 4.5% this year compared to 3.9% last year, due to better business sentiment with China. However, he said the food and beverages (F&B) sector is expected to experience a slowdown due to financial constraints among Malaysians, leading to lower spending power. The F&B sector grew 2.6% last year, a performance which is expected to be maintained this year. He said that with the boost in the tourism sector, the retail industry could experience a double-digit growth.

CHINA COMMITTED TO SME GROWTH Meanwhile Bank of China (Malaysia) Bhd Deputy CEO Datuk Alvin Tay in his presentation listed out some universal challenges SMEs face, namely expensive financing, gap between policies and execution of policies, burdened by tax, talent retention and lack of economies of scale. “Bank are trying to make changes but these are institutions that are heavily regulated,” he said. In comparison, he said China is very focused on helping their SMEs develop. The country has several policies to support their SMEs. These policies are broken down based on provinces, regions and prefectures. The heads of these divisions are committed to SME development because they have KPIs to meet,” he said. He said support for SMEs are provided in four ways: • Development of financial platforms and easing of loans to SMEs. Most large banks have rural branches.

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• Supporting innovation by lowering entry point barriers. As a result, SMEs make up 65% of total invention patent applications and over 80% of new product development. • Upgrading of government services for SMEs • Simplifying policies and process so businesses can focus on their task Challenges and future of financing for SMEs in Malaysia – banks traditionally are the main supporter of growth through loans but a financing gap remains as banks face challenges when assessing financial requirements by SMEs involved in tech and innovation as the initial capital outlay is high and there is usually a lack of visibility in cash flow. Closing the gap – collaboration with peer-to-peer financing, crowd funding, venture capital financing and angel investors. Alternative financial providers can complement the banking sector by supporting those cannot meet the requirements of banking credit assessment. The BOC has taken strides to aid SMEs in their overseas expansion. “Since 2014 we have established the BOC Global Cross-Border Matchmaking Services

for SMEs to link China’s enterprises to participate in expansion into the international market. We aim to solve the differences faced by entrepreneurs venturing overseas such as unfamiliar environment, language, new policies and financing,” Datuk Alvin said. BOC Malaysia, meanwhile, has held two business matchmaking events in Kuala Lumpur, in 2015 and 2018. It saw more than 1000 participants from 500 SME companies taking part in the event. “Malaysia must nurture their SMEs to medium size in order to compete in the global environment. At the end of the day, entrepreneurs must realise that they can’t digitalise everything. The have factories and restaurants, and this is your bread and butter. You have to create a conducive environment and have at your disposal good financial support,” he said.

DATA IS THE NEW CRUDE OIL In today’s world, analytics can help entrepreneurs make better decisions. Business leaders see Predictive Analytics (PA) as the fourth dimension in business. According to Huong Yu Seng, Fusionex Senior Manager of Business Development in his keynote

presentation entitled Big Data - The Way Forward, said there are four types of data that correspond to the How, Why, Who and What of your business. • Interactive data – processes emails, chat transcripts, call centre notes, etc. This answers the How of your business. • Attitudinal Data – processes data from the social network such as opinions and preferences. This looks the Why of your business. • Descriptional Data – looks at attributes and character, answering the Who for your business. • Behavioural Data – order

transactions and processes payment histories. This tell you the What in your business. Information from the above can help entrepreneurs understand their business in qualitative terms and make better decisions. For example, What happened, Why did it happen, What will happen and How can I make it happen? “Fusionex turns data into actionable insights. We are an award-winning company present in 15 countries. Fusionex Academy is our Big Data Analytic Training Program,” he said. Blockchain technology has many benefits to entrepreneurs. It can help

businesses grow their market share and reduce costs by cutting out steps via the creation of a single store to house all data and information. According to Duncan Symmons, chief engineer in CryptalDash in his presentation on the topic “businesses can also gain access to capital. Watch this space as regulations become clearer on access to capital”. Entrepreneurs can also solidify your brand by supply chain verification and a streamlined bureaucratic process that can prove that you went through the required steps and regulations we complied with.

PANELLISTS GIVE VALUABLE ADVICE The second half of the session saw two thought-provoking panel sessions with a list of carefully-picked panel members. The first session looked at the benefits of harvesting Industry 4.0 and how industries can accelerate its adoption while the second session delved into eCommerce. The first session kicked off with SenHeng Electric (KL) Sdn Bhd managing director Lim Kim Heng sharing on his company’s growth. He said that while SenHeng enjoyed steady growth over the years, sales and traffic started slowing down between 2014 and 2016. “A survey revealed to us that our customers moved online to source for their electrical goods. In 2016 I attended a conference where Jack Ma was speaking. He expounded on the New Retail concept of online, offline, logistics and Big Data. It changed business at SenHeng forever,” he said adding that SenHeng bounced back in 2017. Mr DIY, meanwhile, opened its first outlet in 2005. Today it is the largest hardware and home improvement retailer in Malaysia with over 14,000 SKUs, and guarantees the lowest price in the market. The brand launched its new e-commerce platform targeted at consumers who are too busy to visit the store in person or those seeking to buy bulk quantities. “We are still committed to expanding our brick-andmortar stores in Malaysia and in the region,” said Mr DIY Trading Sdn Bhd vice president of marketing Andy Chin. He added that the company will

see the opening of its 15,000-sq-ft new robotic-enhanced ecommerce warehouse in Q1 2020, a huge improvement from its previous warehouse, which was 800 sq ft. Although Mr DIY has its own webstore, it also uses e-commerce platforms such as Shopee, which has a user base of 16 million, to grow sales. According to Zed Li, head of business at Shopee Malaysia, Malaysia still has some way to go in order to be seen as a matured player in the e-commerce sphere. He compared the local e-commerce scene to that of Taiwan which is seeing three times the size of e-commerce transactions compared to Malaysia. Meanwhile, Commerce DotAsia Ventures Sdn Bhd executive chairman Ganesh Kumar Bangah noted that shopping trends started shifting in 2015/16 as Malaysian customers made more purchases online. As such Malaysian retailers should not be afraid to introduce an online presence. “It’s simply another channel. You need to be there because that’s where the customers are,” he said. He suggested omnichannel marketing where Commerce DotAsia’s SiteGiant is able to help retailers. The session was moderated by Teoh Kok Lim, Chairman of Digital Economy Committee, KLSCCCI. The second session, which deliberated Industry 4.0, saw Malaysian Productivity Corporation (MPC) Deputy Director General Ab Rahim Yusoff, Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers (FMM) council member Ir Ter Leong Leng,

Ong Liang Chai from Grand-Flo and ABB Malaysia Sdn Bhd Robotics and Discrete Automation Business Laurent Maillefer. In an update, Ter Leong Leng said Malaysia’s adoption of automation and use of Big Data in the manufacturing industry is low. Ong Liang Chai added that Malaysia is no longer attractive as a manufacturing destination because of rising costs. “We must move on to become a people with higher skill sets. Embrace the HRDF funds to up-skill and re-skill to meet the challenges of automation and digitalisation,” he said. Ab Rahman elaborated on the MPC’s Industry 4wrd readiness assessment programme created to help firms assess their capabilities and readiness to adopt Industry 4.0 technologies and processes, using a pre-determined set of indicators to understand their present capabilities and gaps. “There are available incentives for companies who sign up for the programme including tax deductions,” he said. Maillefer said different industries, from F&B to utilities and ICT, have different levels of digitalisation adoption. Producers must first learn where technology such as robotics can be used to support their production. “We have simulations which can demonstrate production processes and to help producers see what they will get. From here producers can decide if they want to adopt the technology or not. Once implemented, we offer technical support and specialist to train your people,” he said.

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MRCA Academy Churns Out Quality Programmes Participants can look forward to quality training sessions and talks that can optimise their personal skills and their businesses.

he MRCA Academy, which provides training, seminars and talks, has had a busy year thus far. While the programmes started a little slow early in the year, the academy picked up steam by mid-year. Under the leadership of Dato Sri Garry Chua, who made the revival of the Academy one of his six-point action plan in April 2018 when he was re-elected for the president’s post during MRCA’s annual general meeting, the academy recently saw four talks in July 2019. This effort, a big achievement to the organising committee, is successful in upgrading the knowledge and enhancing the skills of members’ employees. These sessions are also conducted to provide updates on news affecting the retail industry so that MRCA members are kept abreast with current trends concerning the industry and their businesses. Dato’ Liew Bin, MRCA Vice President who also heads the Academy, is very pleased with the response from the members for the seminars and talks organised by the Academy. He


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encourages more members to participate. In early July, the academy conducted a full-day human resources seminar on Misconduct and Termination. Close to 40 participants turned up for the session that was conducted by Tony Tan from EC Management Consultant. He covered three pertinent areas in his talks, namely determining and identifying misconduct, handling employee’s misconduct and gaining a deeper understanding of the employment law and procedures to prevent the mishandling of dismissal. In the second week of July, Kayatthri from Global Talent Academy presented a half-day programme aimed at effective business writing. Here, some 20 participants were introduced to the science behind winning posts that get noticed and shared. They also learned how to join in with the conversations

that follow and write compelling content for them. Kayatthri returned for the next session at the academy with another half-day programme entitled How to Run a Successful Online Campaign. Here she gave pointers on how to bring in leads, opportunities and sales for small businesses through online marketing using various online medium. The final session on July saw Charles Gregory, master trainer from Digital Marketing Consultancy Sdn Bhd, presenting a two-hour talk on the Five


Most Disruptive Retail Digital Marketing Trends. Other interesting programmes were talks in June entitled Organise Your Own Data and It’s Not As Expensive As You Think by Simone Macario, managing director of DCG Asia Pacific. This talk, which hinged on the idea that artificial intelligence is making its way into the retail industry in a big way, drew close to 60 participants. In May, the Academy launched a full-day workshop on search engine optimisation by Charles Gregory. The goal was to make a site usable in order to draw in the right people from the search engines. He said the purpose of the site should be clearly defined so that the site achieves this purpose. There were two relevant programmes hosted by the academy in April. The sessions – Successful Branding and Powerful Email Marketing – were two full-day events led by Teh Kok Ngun and Charles Gregory respectively. Teh exposed the participants to various scopes of marketing and how this could make a major difference in the success of a company. Participants also learned to use advertising and

promotional tools to achieve their marketing objectives. Charles, in his session on Powerful Email Marketing, showed participants how to build an inbound email marketing strategy that grows business. Meanwhile, his session on How to Grow your Business Through LinkedIn held in early March, taught participants to create a professional LinkedIn profile and news strategies that will bring in more leads and businesses from LinkedIn.

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RHB Launches Connected Banking Ecosystem for SMEs Both RHB Reflex, which is designed to cater to the operational needs of SMEs, and Financio, a cloud-based accounting platform, will enable seamless access to banking and accounting for their customers.

n May 2019 RHB Banking Group launched the country’s first SME connected banking ecosystem. The new SME e-solution is aimed at transforming SME businesses by connecting two platforms for seamless access to banking and accounting activities. The platforms are RHB Reflex, which is an online integrated service that combines cash management, trade and payment solutions, in short the operational needs of businesses, and Financio, a business solutions partner offering cloud-based accounting software, essentially eliminating the need for SME customers to navigate multiple systems. The enhanced RHB SME e-Solutions is one of the components of the RHB SME ecosystem. It provides SME


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customers with value-added features such as seamless integration of banking activities, all on a single platform. In this way, RHB SME e-Solutions addresses challenges faced by SMEs both in cash flow and financial resource management. The platform also offers SMEs complete interoperability to achieve greater business efficiency. Without RHB’s e-Solution, business owners frequently complain of the disconnect between banking and accounting platforms. This has made them look for off-the-shelf solutions that do not quite address their needs. Traditional solutions represent a huge hindrance for SMEs as it lacks the integration between bank’s online banking and accounting software. This could be why almost 80% of RHB’s survey respondents felt that managing their cash flow today is a daunting task.

Enterprise systems, on the other hand, are often too complex and costly. These challenges have led to a new paradigm of collaboration between financial institutions and fintech providers. At RHB, we constantly seek opportunities to partner with providers to create a symbiotic experience where the strengths of one organisation complements the other, ultimately delivering an enhanced banking journey for the business end-user. The solution is easy – from start to end. The application involves a straight through process where customers only need to subscribe to RHB Reflex Premium Plus package giving them automatic access to Financio. The solution, powered by APIs, delivers banking functions within the accounting software such as retrieval of bank account balance on real time



basis, initiate payments for bills and invoices, and request for on-demand bank statements. Additionally, customers can also enjoy real time account dashboard delivered in RHB Reflex, and the added convenience of approving payments via the all new RHB Reflex Mobile App. With Financio accounting software solutions, SMEs will benefit from the following: • Direct integration with third party accounting software using secured Application Programming Interface (API); • Real-time view of their bank account balance, within the accounting software; • Facilitation of payment initiations directly from SME customers’ accounting software; • Automated reconciliation process by leveraging on direct bank feeds; and • Request for on-demand/periodical bank account statements from the accounting software as well as view their financial accounting dashboard within the banking platform. “RHB’s connected banking ecosystem simplifies cash flow and financial management for our SME customers. In rolling out this platform, RHB is the first bank to use Application Programming Interface, to integrate RHB Reflex with a financial accounting system,” said Dato’ Khairussaleh Ramli, Group Managing Director, RHB Banking Group. “Currently, there are 90,000 SMEs within our SME ecosystem, of which we are targeting to have at least

RHB SME ecosystem’s line-up of cloud-based business solutions aimed at empowering SMEs with versatile solutions:

• RHB SME e-Solutions – all-in-one solution designed for SMEs, such as Accounting Software, e-Point of Sale and Human Resource Management. • RHB SME Online Financing and Online Business Current Account Opening – a customer self-initiated online loan application portal that allows small businesses to apply for financing in a few minutes and receive cash within a few days. • RHB Financial Supply Chain – offers business solutions that optimise working capital and provide liquidity to business through ecosystem financing by which suppliers and retailers can perform payment for goods and services through RHB’s platforms. • RHB Biz Power – a business lending solution which provides SMEs the flexibility to obtain financing with a customised combination of Term Loan, overdraft and trade facility based on needs. 10,000 SMEs participate in the SME e-Solutions by 2020. “RHB’s approach towards SME Banking is to provide a holistic ecosystem that makes everyday business for SMEs simple and convenient, thus improving their productivity and enabling them to

further improve their business. This is in line with our FIT22 strategic roadmap which outlines a structured direction in boosting RHB’s penetration of the SME segment in Malaysia and become an SME ecosystem bank by 2022,” he added. Until May 2020, RHB said it aims to introduce more business-friendly features on the SME e-Solutions platform, which can enable customers to make direct payments via FPX and DuitNow. The bank will also be expanding tie-ups with new business solutions partners to include pointof-sale solutions, e-wallet operators, payroll providers and inventory management solutions.

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Focus Point Lifestyle Retail Outlet Opens at AEON Mall Nilai Focus Point opened its new retail concept outlet that houses Focus Point and its homegrown KOMUGI bakery café under one roof located at the nation’s biggest AEON Mall in Nilai, Negri Sembilan, recently. MRCA President, Datuk Seri Garry Chua, together with Dato’ Liaw Choon Liang, President & CEO of Focus Point Holdings Berhad and three Board of Directors of Focus Point, Datin Joyce Goh, Datin Nancy Sim and Kelvin Liaw, officiated at the grand opening ceremony which was attended by scores of invited guests. Several top models from Amber Chia Academy showcased the latest eyewear collection. Dato’ Liaw said that the move marked a remarkable development in Focus Point’s milestone. “This new concept outlet occupies about 2,746 sq ft and provides a different shopping experience for our customers by offering

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various range of eyewear as well as the most authentic Japanese bakery by KOMUGI,” he said. KOMUGI offers a variety of freshly baked delicious and authentic Japanese bakeries, patisseries, and confectioneries using natural premium ingredients. KOMUGI’s products are Halal certified. The brand has been well received in the market and is currently operating 22 outlets in the region – 10 in Malaysia, 11 in the Philippines and 1 in Australia. Dato’ Liaw added that Focus Point is introducing Advanced Primary Eye Care services to customers by offering complimentary eye health examinations such as computerised eye tests, eye pressure measurement, optic nerve imaging, glaucoma, cataract, and

diabetic retinopathy detection, among others. The company has invested more than RM1 million in the advanced optical equipment such as hand-held Tonometer, hand-held Fundus Camera and Slit Lamp, among others. These exclusive services are provided at 16 selected outlets. The services will be made available at more outlets soon. Currently, Focus Point Vision Care Group has 192 outlets regionwide. Focus Point has been officially recognised by the Malaysia Book of Records as the largest optical retail chain store in Malaysia. In conjunction with its 30th anniversary celebration, Focus Point is giving away exclusive and attractive prizes to 30 lucky winners every month.

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Park@City Pharmacy Opens New Outlet in Uptown Damansara Park@City Pharmacy and Medical Supplies opened its 4th outlet in May at 106-G, Jalan SS 21/39, Damansara Utama, Petaling Jaya. Among the invited guests at the event were MRCA President Datuk Seri Garry Chua, council member Jeff Yong and Simon Wong, General Manager of MRCA Secretariat. Datuk Seri Garry who officiated at the event, congratulated Park@City Pharmacy and Medical Supplies for opening its new outlet and highlighted the importance of healthcare. He pointed out that many Malaysians are now conscious about their health and with the opening of the pharmacy in a prime location such as Damansara Utama, it would be well received by the public. Jess Chong, the Managing Director of Park@City Pharmacy and Medical Supplies, in her speech thanks her staff and her husband B C Lim for their support in making the event a success. The company which has been the business for 13 years, offers mainly Western medicine, a wide range of household medical supplies and products and health food supplements, among others.

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AmBank Partners CGC To Provide RM30 Million For Start-Ups Additional RM500 million for SMEs as part of Portfolio Guarantee Scheme. mBank (M) Berhad and Credit Guarantee Corporation Malaysia Berhad (CGC) recently formed a new strategic partnership and launched SME Biz Start Up-i which is aimed at assisting start-ups that have been in business between one to three years and lack collateral as well as access to financing. The Shariah-compliant financing facility offers RM30 million in financing is a partially secured financing package that comes with 70% of CGC’s guarantee coverage. The facility offers financing ranging from RM30,000 to RM300,000 to qualified SMEs.


At the launch ceremony recently, Dato’ Sulaiman Mohd Tahir, Group Chief Executive Officer, AmBank Group, said that with the introduction of SME Biz Start Up-i, the bank would be able to provide SMEs with much needed working capital to propel their growth. “We are excited to partner with CGC to address the financing needs of SMEs that are the backbone of the economy,” he said. To further complement the ongoing strategic collaboration between AmBank and CGC, an additional RM500 million has been allocated as part of CGC’s Portfolio Guarantee tranche continuation with AmBank

SME Banking to support the growing demand of the SME industry. The additional allocation is targeted at medium sized SMEs, with financing ranging from RM100,000 to RM1 million. With CGC’s guarantee, AmBank SME Banking is able to provide applicants with higher term loan facilities and faster financing approval. Datuk Mohd Zamree Mohd Ishak, President / Chief Executive Officer said that over the last four years, both AmBank and CGC have successfully launched 15 Portfolio Guarantee schemes totalling RM2.88 billion and benefitting over 2,700 SMEs.

From left: Leong Weng Choong, Chief Business Officer, CGC, Christopher Yap, Managing Director, Business Banking, AmBank Group, Eqhwan Mokhzanee, Chief Executive Officer, AmBank Islamic Berhad, Datuk Mohd Zamree Mohd Ishak, President / Chief Executive Officer, CGC, Dato’ Sulaiman Mohd Tahir, Group Chief Executive Officer, AmBank Group, Jade Lee, Managing Director, Retail Banking, AmBank (M) Berhad, David Yeoh, Head, SME Banking, AmBank (M) Berhad and Rahim Raduan, Chief Corporate Officer, CGC at the launch ceremony held recently.

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AmBank Group helps SMEs strengthen their businesses with fitting solutions. ntrepreneurs stand to gain much from AmBank Group’s financing programme. The bank’s financing for business working capital, special programmes for new business startups and finance purchase of land and properties of up to 148% were created with budding businessmen and women in mind. At MRCA’s monthly meeting in June 2019 at Icon Hall, Sunrider Malaysia Headquarters on Jalan Ampang, Kuala Lumpur, AmBank representative delivered a presentation on its financing programme, which helps small and medium-sized enterprises maximise the growth of their businesses with solutions that strengthen businesses, finance daily operations and pave the way forward for future growth. The programme is good for budding


entrepreneurs because a minimum collateral or in certain cases no collateral is required when applying for financing. Unlike financing applications before, today’s product from AmBank will see simplified documents and a quick loan disbursement. AmBank provides four financing offers that cater to the many needs

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31 Monthly Meeting

4 Financing Solutions For SME Businesses

of today’s entrepreneurs. Firstly the Business Start-up Term Loan is finetuned for new business start-ups. It offers a financing tenure of up to five years and a financing limit of up to RM300,000. Meanwhile AmBank’s Term Loan has a financing tenure of up to seven years and a financing limit of up to RM1 million. Both the Business Start-up Term Loan and the Term Loan require no collateral with Credit Guarantee Corporation Malaysia Bhd (CGC) and no early settlement fee. For a longer financing tenure entrepreneurs may want to consider AmBank’s Biz Property Extra, which provides financing limit of up to RM10 million. This offers provides a financing margin of up to 148% and a full disbursement. AmBank’s Commercial Property Term Loan is a property refinance scheme with cash out loan. It offers a financing tenure of up to 20 years with a financing limit of up to RM10 million. Entrepreneurs can subscribe to a margin of financing of up to 85% plus 5% RTA/LTA, and a full disbursement. For more information, call Levin Law (019-3531331), Marcus Yap (0122378001), Allyvia Lee (012-604 9991) and Sean Sen (012-3912022).

Monthly Meeting


JUNE 2019 Venue: Sunrider International headquarters on Jalan Ampang

The monthly meeting saw about 100 members who turned to support the organisation, get updated on current events and to network. The June monthly meeting kicked off with the president’s opening remarks. Datuk Seri Garry Chua welcomed the 100-odd members and congratulated the 2019 Malaysian International Retail and Franchise exhibition committee members who were working hard in the run up to the exhibition. “The current term ends in March 2020, and we have lined up a number of big events until that date. One of them is the MIRF exhibition in July 2019, the charity golf event and the Shanghai expo visit. Our calendar of events reaches a finale with our annual Chinese New Year celebration,” he said. In other matters, he declared that MRCA’s current membership has exceeded the 500 mark. It has some new and strong brands under its umbrella such as Bata, Harvey Norman and Parkson. It was also announced that the MRCA Charity Golf originally slated for 16 July 2020 has been brought forward to 20th November 2019. The meeting also listed down the events the organisation supported in the previous few months. Most notable was the Focus Point Lifestyle Store grand opening in April, the Star CIMB SME Thought Leadership Forum 2019 in May, the Sin Chew Business Award, the Park City Pharmacy opening and the follow up meeting on Membudayakan Perpaduan, Meraikan Kepelbagaian. Other events which the MRCA supported include KLSCCI Golf Charity Dinner, MY Cashless Day soft launch, meeting and press conference with MPAJ on indoor signage and advertisement board, Infocom SEA Pro AV expo, Golden Eagle award launching ceremony, launch of RHB SME e-solutions, MRCA Academy training on SEO, Malaysia Domestic Trade and Consumer Forum, MRCA Hari

Malaysia Retailer Vol 7 No 3

Raya Charity Visit, Asia Pacific Intelligent Retail Industry Alliance meeting, SOBA 2019 launch and engagement with Polish business community on foreign direct investment. There were also business presentation sessions by Shirley Tay of Sunrider International Sdn Bhd, as well as AmBank on financial solutions for SME businesses, MyWorld Holdings and LWS Strategies where Dr Lawrence Walter Ng spoke on Winning Mindset in You.


Ordinary Member House of Kashkha Sdn Bhd SC Land Development Sdn Bhd MBH Medispa Sdn Bhd Associate Member App Lab Sdn Bhd DCG Net Malaysia Sdn Bhd Fullrich Malaysia Sdn Bhd Searchguru Sdn Bhd FunNow Sdn Bhd

About 13 MRCA members, including its president Datuk Seri Garry Chua, attended the Malaysia Special Project & Business Networking Dinner held at the Chakri Palace & Raintree Skybar located at the rooftop, 27th floor of Dorsett Hotel Residence in Sri Hartamas in Kuala Lumpur. The event, held in June, was supported by Eco World Development Group Berhad where they shared information about investment opportunities at Bukit Bintang City Centre (BBCC), which is poised to be the new gateway to Kuala Lumpur’s golden triangle. BBCC is a joint-venture project between Eco World, UDA Holdings Berhad and Employees Provident Fund Board. Located on a 19.4-acre site within the golden triangle, the fully integrated development will have modern corporate suites, residential suites, hotels, retail and entertainment venues, as well as landscaped parks and gardens.



Improving ties with the media industry

ON TOP OF THE WORLD “No substitute for hard work”

“We Build A Lifestyle” Tan Sri Dato’ Sri Leong Hoy Kum, Group Managing Director, Mah Sing Group Berhad

Tan Sri Dr. Lim Wee Chai, Chairman and Founder of Top Glove Group of Companies


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How Consumer Trends Affect the Industry

MRCA-KPDNKK Charity Run 2016 Budget 2017’S SME Goodies



MRCA Turns 25 CEO Night Teaser

Opportunities in Cambodia & Vietnam MRCA’s Strong Foothold in Johor

TARGET MARKET Business community interested in the retail, franchising and branding industry. DISTRIBUTION • More than 450 Members Companies & Associates in Malaysian and abroad. • Top Management of companies. • Relevant Government Ministries & Agencies, including the Malaysian Overseas Trade Office. • Relevant Business Organisations & Major Shopping Malls. • MRCA Events. • Sold in all leading bookstores nationwide.

Turning 25 with Pomp & Grandeur


PAVING THE WAY FOR INDUSTRY 4.0 Dato’ Vignaesvaran Jeyandran, Chief Executive of HRDF

MRCA Cover_Vick.indd 1

The new and improved MALAYSIA RETAILER highlights, informs and introduces readers to trends and strategies within the retail, franchising and branding disciplines. The quarterly magazine also features a mix of articles, including personality and company profiles, success stories, and general reports relevant to the three disciplines.

Sunway Malls Celebrates 20th Anniversary

Awarding Excellence & Value Creators

Dato’ Seri Ivan Teh, Founder and CEO of Fusionex

Eversendai’s Tan Sri AK Nathan Stars in CEO Night

Turning 25 with Pomp & Grandeur


Learn From The Best at The MRCA Retail Conference 2017

HR Training & Development: A National Agenda

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

A Masterclass In Transformation

Vol 5 No 4 2017

Exciting Week at MIRF 2017


MK Curtain Berhad Founder and Group Managing Director Dato’ Calvin Khiu

Vol 5 No 4 2017

SITTING AT THE HEAD OF THE TABLE Dato’ Goh Cheh Yak, Founder and Group Managing Director of

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MIRF 2016

A Runaway Success


Dato’ Garry Chua, New President of MRCA Shares His Aspirations For The Association

MRCA 24th Anniversary & Crown Awards Winners

Vol 5 No 3 2017

WM RM9 / EM RM11

Establishing a Southern Chapter & Realising Expansion Plans

Vol 5 No 3 2017

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Challenges of Globalisation & Technology and Impact On Businesses

Vol 5 No 2 2017

WM RM9 / EM RM11


Vol 5 No 1 2017

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Vol 4 No 2 2016

WM RM9 / EM RM11

Vol 4 No 1 2016

7/6/17 1:00 AM

MAGAZINE DETAILS Frequency: Quarterly Issues: ◊ January ◊ April ◊ July ◊ October ADVERTISING SPECIFICATIONS Trimmed Size : 230mm (W) x 300mm (H) Typed Area : 210mm (W) x 280mm (H) Bleed Size : 240mm (W) x 310mm (H) Material Requirement: PDF Format


1X 2X 4X

Inside Front Cover

RM5,500 RM5,000 RM4,500

Inside Back Cover

RM4,500 RM4,000 RM3,500

Outside Back Cover

RM6,500 RM6,000 RM5,500

Full Page (Run-of-Book) RM3,500 RM3,250 RM2,800

ADVERTISING ENQUIRIES HARINI MANAGEMENT SERVICES SDN BHD (609031-W) W-9-12, Menara Melawangi, Amcorp Trade Centre, 18, Persiaran Barat, 46050 Petaling Jaya, Selangor. Tel: 603-7932 3259 Malaysia Retailer Vol 7 No 3 Email: harini.mservices@gmail.com

33 Event

Malaysia Special Project & Business Networking Dinner



FUNNOW SDN BHD FunNow is the only on-demand, multi-category and locationbased app in Asia which allows people seeking fun activities around them to instantly book Food & Drinks, SPA & Massage, Hotels, Beauty Services and many more. FunNow aims to help merchants create extra revenue on their idle capacity whilst providing instant booking convenience for the people nearby. FunNow recently raised a series A funding of US$5 million from Alibaba and is expected to integrate with Alipay in June 2019 for the huge exposure to Chinese tourists visiting Malaysia. Currently, via its integration with LINE, FunNow is the exclusive provider for its more than 3000 merchants F&B, SPA & massage and beauty services to the potential 20 million users in Taiwan and 140 million users in Thailand, Korea and Japan. “FunNow is dedicated to assisting offline merchants by digitalising their business growth and to operate smartly in current competitive O2O market. By offering a convenient on-demand booking service, FunNow delivers an integrated industry chain to connect customers and high-quality services with enriching features in a highly functional app,” said Eric, on behalf of the company.

SEDAP CORNER Sedap Corner Sdn BHd is an established Johor homegrown brand since 1987. It is well-known for traditional temptations of Malaysian ‘Kueh’ that are still prepared the same oldfashioned way – infused with the finest ingredients and made to the exacting standards set by the founders of Sedap Corner. Other favourites are Johor delicacies such as Laksa Johor, Mee Bandung, Roti Jala and Asam Pedas along with Asian local dishes such as Sedap Corner’s signature Beef Kway Teow, Mee Siam, Mee Mamak and Nasi Goreng Kampung, among others. Alisa Lamlertkittikul, Executive Director said that currently with 7 outlets in Johor Bahru, there are plans to open more outlets with new exciting concepts. Sedap Corner has been progressively revamping its pioneer outlets to create a vibrant ambience using traditional elements with a modern touch, along with a warm and cosy atmosphere to attract a younger and more diverse crowd.

Malaysia Retailer Vol 7 No 3



As a global leader in cash technology solutions, GLORY provides the financial, retail, cash centre and gaming industries with confidence that their cash is protected and always working to help build a stronger business. GLORY cash automation technologies and process engineering services help businesses in more than 100 countries optimise the handling, movement and management of cash. GLORY personally engage with each customer to address their unique challenges and goals – enhancing staff efficiency, reducing operating costs and enabling a more rewarding customer experience. One successful deployment GLORY had would be from neighbouring country, Singapore. A famous local brand, umisushi, wanted a point of sale solution with full cash recycling capability, accepting a mix of multiple note and coin denominations as well as automating the dispensing of change. This would remove the need for employees to handle cash and enable them to focus on customer service. Jeffrey Liew, Executive Director for Food Retail commented that, “The implementation of the automated

cash management system demonstrates our determination to embrace technology as a means of improving efficiency, enhancing customer satisfaction and optimising manpower resources.” “We offer peace of mind. We enable transformation. We generate options. We empower people. We do all this by releasing companies from the burden of cash management, putting cash to work, and helping customers enhance the value that their staff and facilities add to their business. “We are Glory. We secure the future,” said Carine Loh, Country Sales Director. Website address: http://www.glory-global.com/








* Date and venue subject to change. Malaysia Retailer Vol 7 No 3

Profile for Harini Management Services Sdn Bhd

Malaysia Retailer|Vol 7|No 3|2019|APPLE  

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 7|No 3|2019|APPLE  

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