Even as many brick-and-mortar businesses adapt to the e-commerce business environment, there are up and coming Malaysian retailers that continue to make their presence felt through the retail store concept. While online shopping gains popularity, in-store traffic is not waning as many still get the bulk of their shopping done in brick-and-mortar stores. In this issue, Top 10 of Malaysia takes a look at its list of Malaysia’s top 10 emerging brick-and-mortar retail brands thriving with their unique product and service offers.
Big Apple Donuts & Coffee
Opening its first outlet at The Curve in 2007, Big Apple has become a household name as it is one of the fastest growing retailers in this nation with 23 stores operating nationwide within a year upon the launch. Wholly owned by Big Apple Interasia Sdn Bhd with Mike U K Chan as founder and CEO, Big Apple now has hundreds of employees manning their more than eighty outlets nationwide, with international expansion plans underway. As it continues striving to be different, the concept, packaging and abundant choices of donuts make it a unique brand carrying the tagline ‘Every Piece is a Masterpiece’.
Founded in 2005, Vern’s Holding Sdn Bhd is a manufacturer of women footwear and handbags owned by Managing Director, Ng Chuan Hoo. Vern’s currently has more than seventy outlets all over Malaysia and it has enjoyed continual growth through ventures in the manufacturing, licensing and retail business of fashionable ladies shoes and handbags for the young and young at heart. Vern’s workforce of over 400 employees and the commitment to producing innovative designs and quality shoemaking helps drive the company further. Conceiving new styles each season, Vern’s continues providing a range of quality products from footwear to handbags and endlessly seeks fashion solutions via continuous product developments.
Founded by John Isaac Ho in 2013, Sangkaya (M) Sdn Bhd is derived from John’s wife’s name, Sang Rida Kaya. Founded on the philosophy of manifesting true values of coconut as a consumable, Sangkaya has over thirty outlets and started off with premium coconut ice cream. Having created a trend with Sangkaya’s line-up of ice cream flavors, it is unique that Sangkaya uses coconut milk as the base for fresh dairy, cream and egg replacement, so health-conscious people and vegans are able to enjoy it too. Sangkaya products are made daily with ingredients sourced from homegrown produce. Constantly improving the menu, its coconut desserts have no artificial additives or preservatives.
Founded in 2006 by See Soon Eng, Kwik One Sdn Bhd now has more than 30 Kwik & ez outlets across Malaysia. Formerly known as Kwik Cut, Kwik & ez is the brainchild of visionary entrepreneur, See Soon Eng who embarks on the concept of having an affordable and express haircut. Kwik & ez’s business philosophy is to provide time saving, affordable, hygienic and professional haircut services. Over the years, Kwik & ez continues to provide free haircuts to orphanages, children with learning disabilities and others. Kwik & ez has now become a household name for quality and speedy haircuts.
Co-founded by K. S. Goh in 2009, Taste Better (M) Sdn Bhd produces and markets exotic tropical fruit puffs and ice creams with the standout item being durian cream puffs. Currently with over 30 outlets and an international presence in China, Singapore and Indonesia, Taste Better aims to explore native Malaysian fruits and flavours and incorporate the flavours into their baked goods and desserts. Successfully bringing out the flavours in the fruits, one can forget that there is no typical ice cream flavours like vanilla or chocolate on its list. In addition, Taste Better has garnered awards such as the 2015 Golden Eagle Award.
Founded by CEO of MK Curtain Group, Dato Calvin Khiu Fu Siang and his wife, Datin Moon Sze Fui in 2005 through Khiu’s creativity and innovation MK Curtain has become one of the top home décor retailers in Malaysia with 25 outlets nationwide. Through starting out in night markets, it has grown to be recognised by The Malaysia Book of Records for having “The Biggest Curtain Showroom in Malaysia”. Moreover, ‘MK’ in MK Curtain stems from the first letter of Khiu’s and his wife’s surnames, as her support led him to pursue the business. Khiu now aims for MK Curtain to be the world’s leading company in home furnishings.
Established by Amy Hiew who is also the managing director, Kitschen is under NFC Clothier Sdn Bhd which helms clothing brands Nichii, Marry Merry and Dressing Paula. Kitschen currently has over twenty outlets with 2 in Saudi Arabia as it fills the need for affordable yet trendy clothes. Starting out in a small boutique, business prospered till the financial crisis in 1997. She then re-strategised and designed clothes for wholesale and upon realising that her designs were selling well, she opened Nichii in 2003 and Kitschen in 2008 as a clothing line for young adults. Additionally, Hiew is proud to have created homegrown clothing brands that have penetrated international markets.
Malaysian coffee chain, espressolab is helmed by espressolab Asia Pacific Sdn Bhd and founded by Leong Hoo Yin in 2011. As a fan of coffee, Leong’s interest took him back to basics as he learnt everything about coffee from scratch. Leong also runs Certification of Coffee Barista courses and with over twenty outlets nationwide, he still sources coffee from all over the world and roasts and blends it locally at his Roastwerks facilities. To date, espressolab has worked with Khazanah Nasional Berhad, Microsoft, cafes, restaurants and trained over 100 baristas. Moreover, Leong is a Certified Italian Espresso Taster under the Istituto Internazionale Assaggiatori Caffe (International Institute of Coffee Tasters).
Life Juice started when Dax Lee, Roen Cian and Juhn Teo met for business meetings at juice bars instead of coffee shops and started thinking about the contents of their juice. Then, they thought of creating fresh juice everyday minus the syrup, concentrates and ice. So, they started juicing at home, sourcing the best ingredients, perfecting recipes, understanding nutrition and eventually shared them with people they knew. Time passed and it became clear that what they created was more than just juice and so Life Juice was born. As founders, they continue to believe that taking small actions like having fresh juice everyday will add up to greater things.
Founded in 2008 by Anne Tan, Neubodi Holdings Sdn Bhd has steadily grown since its inception. Anne believes the best fitting bra can make a huge difference as it correlates to confidence and found it difficult to find bras best-suited to her preferences as ‘bra fitting’ was foreign to many. So, she did courses and some research and later formed a team to develop the perfect bra for women. Today, Neubodi has a complete line of lingerie and retail stores and retains the core value of “Every woman deserves the right bra”.