Homegrown Success Stories

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While international brands are known through their branding efforts, local brands have mushroomed over the years and carved a niche for themselves in ever changing markets. Top 10 of Malaysia shares its list of the top homegrown brands (presented in no particular order) that have spread their wings outside of the region and their founders who have made it big through their entrepreneurial skills, innovation, talent and hard work. In fact, one might even think that some of these foreign-sounding brands are from distant lands, but the truth is that they all proudly Malaysian.

Lewré

The Lewré brand of shoes is so synonymous with impeccable craftsmanship, stylish designs and quality comfort that it would easily be taken as any other high-end Western brands. A homegrown product of Malaysia, the brand Lewré is established in 1997 and takes after the name of its founder, the one and only Malaysian born Datuk Lewré Lew. This master of shoe-making drew his inspiration for the Lewré brand, from none other than his mentor, celebrated international shoemaker Datuk Jimmy Choo. A highlight of Lew’s career is his participation in the highly prestigious London Fashion Week. Since 1997, Lew’s shoes are highly sought after by the who’s who in the industry such as celebrities and even royalties alike.

Ogawa

The brand Ogawa may give one the first impression that it originates from The Land of the Rising Sun due to its Japanese-sounding name. However, the truth is far from that. Ogawa is in fact the brainchild of two Malaysians, Wong Lee Keong and Lim Poh Khian. Both founded the Ogawa brand in 1996. Since then, the brand has gathered many accolades for the pair, namely the Reader’s Digest Trusted Brand 2012 Gold Award and the Asia Pacific Entrepreneur Excellence Award 2013. Ogawa’s top products are its signature comfy, massage chairs. Now, it is the premiere brand in the health and wellness equipment market, not only in Malaysia but throughout the world.

The Manhattan Fish Market

The Manhattan Fish market does not actually come from Manhattan, New York as some may think. In fact, this restaurant was inspired by the famed Futton Fish market in Brooklyn. However, The Manhattan Fish Market has deep homegrown roots as its founder George Ang, is actually Malaysian. Known for its fresh seafood, the Manhattan chain offers the freshest catch of the day in an array of choices, all cooked in American style. Since its foray into the food and beverage industry, the Manhattan brand has garnered for its founder numerous awards and accolades. Among them are The Singapore Franchiser of the Year 2009 and The International Franchiser of the year 2009.

Fipper

Who doesn’t love wearing flip flops? They are comfortable, easy to wear and a breeze for the feet on this hot scorching weather. The brand Fipper may be similar to the range of flip flops produced by the world famous Brazilian brand Havaianas, but the likeness only stops here. Founded in 2008 by a young budding entrepreneur named Jack Lim, the brand,Fipper, has made its mark in the footwear market with its quality product and competitive price. Using all natural Thai rubber, the Fipper brand of flip flops is available in attractive colours and designs.Currently, Lim’s business venture has 45 outlets in Malaysia and also at foreign countries such as Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam, and even in the United States.

British India

Established in 1994, BritishIndia is a homegrown lifestyle retail brand that currently has over 40 outlets across Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and the Philippines. Created for the tropics and inspired by the grand romance of the Colonial era, British India put forth classic designs that take on effortless dressing while mixing luxury with comfort. Founded by Pat Liew, the brand has grown into a household name for easy, comfortable yet elegant outfits. Conjuring up perceptions of a privileged lifestyle in a less hurried era, a melding of east and west, BritishIndia is known for their use of linens and unique intricate embroidery on their garments. BritishIndia has won the hearts of many including royalties, diplomats and their many discerning customers.

Bufori

Who would have guessed that a fancy car such as Bufori would come straight out from Kepong in the suburbs of Kuala Lumpur? Bufori, the luxurious handcrafted automobile got its inspiration from 1930’s American Coupes. The company was originally started by three Australian-Lebanese brothers Anthony, George and Gerry Khouri in Sydney, Australia. In 1998, Bufori Motor Car Company’s entire operations were fully moved to Kepong. According to the founders, the move was made as they were convinced that Malaysia provides an abundance of talented craftsmen with the skills to hand-build these highly customised automobiles. Of late, Bufori continues to excel in the field of automobiles by strengthening its foothold in regions such as the Middle-East, Europe and China.

Beryl’s

The Beryl brand,which was established in 1995 by Ting Sii Liong, is proudly a Malaysian product and the operations are located in Bangi and Seri Kembangan. Only carefully selected ingredients are used in the making of Beryl’s chocolates as cocoa beans from Ghana are sourced. For avid fans of the brand, Beryl even has a chocolate factory tour that gives visitors a chance to see the chocolate making process aka Willie Wonka’s Chocolate Factory.Currently, Beryl’s offers more than 100 varieties of chocolates to suit every discerning taste. Today, Beryl’s has successfully penetrated not only the local chocolate market, but also in foreign countries such as Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, The Philippines, Singapore, Macau and even Dubai.

OldTown White Coffee

OldTown White Coffee has been known as your better-than-average local coffee shop. Established in 1999 in Ipoh by Goh Ching Mun and Tan Say Yap, OldTown first started as the pioneer of local white coffee by manufacturing its brand of 3-in-1 instant coffee blend, targeting households in Malaysia. From merely a humble cup of white coffee, OldTown has expanded its presence to a chain of restaurants offering not just coffee, but also a list of food and beverages that are Malaysian favourites. The brand has won numerous awards such as International Franchisor of The Year 2011 and Asia Excellence Brand Award. Now, it not only has over 237 outlets in Malaysia, but also in regions such as Singapore and China.

Secret Recipe

The Secret Recipe brand is originally famous for its lovely, scrumptious cakes that are both high in quality and taste. Debuting in 1997, the man behind the brand is none other than Dato’ Steven Sim. Sim always envisioned that the brand Secret Recipe would become a global icon. The name Secret Recipe which came to Sim in a dream has now turned into a celebrated lifestyle cafe chain offering not only cakes, but also a mix of fusion food. Secret Recipe has grabbed several international awards such as Indonesia’s Best Restaurant 2006 and Philippine Tatler Best Restaurant 2008. To date, it has outlets not only in Malaysia, but also in countries such as Australia, Singapore, Jakarta, Brunei, China and The Philippines.

Padini

Do the brands Seed, Brands Outlet, PDI, Vincci and P&Co ring a bell? If yes, then you might have been a fan of Padini Holdings Berhad, a Malaysian fashion company that specialises in fast retailing. Padini which was started by Yong Pang Chaun,first began as a back end operation in Malaysia’s apparel industry in the mid-70s. Over the course of time, the company was involved in distributing and selling both of its men and women’s apparel, and a host of other accessories. Among Padini Holdings most popular and fast selling brands are Vincci and Padini which are sold in its retail flagship and concept stores. Today, its range of fashion goods is exported outside of Malaysia such as Australia, Singapore, Thailand, and even Syria.

Issue 21/2015