Showrooms to cost White Horse RM20m

Ceramic tile maker White Horse Bhd has allocated RM20mil to set up one-stop tile showrooms nationwide over the next three years, its executive chairman Liao Yuan Shun said. 

The first showroom, Ceramic World, located in Kuala Lumpur, has a built-up area of 30,000 sq ft and is currently Malaysia's largest tile showroom. White Horse spent close to RM2mil refurbishing its Kuala Lumpur marketing office to create the showroom environment, Liao told reporters after Ceramic World's opening on Wednesday. 

“The second showroom, to be located in Johor Baru, is currently under construction and we expect it to be operational by the end of the year,” he said, adding that the showroom, built from scratch, would cost around RM5mil. 

Liao Yuan Shun (left) receiving "the largest one-step tile showroom" certificate from Malaysian Book o Records founder Datuk Danny Ooi.

Liao said Ceramic World has 200 mock-up units, inclusive of two complete studio apartment units, with tile compositions suited for that dream kitchen, bathroom, living room and dining area. Professional advice by expert consultants on interior tile design and styling are also available. 

The showroom was also to show that the quality of White Horse tiles was on par, if not better than, tiles made by the Italians and Spaniards, Liao added. 

Ceramic World, which began operations in June, has been very well received, and has helped White Horse increase its second quarter sales in the Klang Valley by 30%, compared with the quarter before. The Klang Valley contributes about 40% to White Horse's domestic sales, which in turn accounts for 80% of its total group turnover. 

“We expect to achieve sales growth of at least 10% for the current financial year (which ends on Dec 31),” Liao said. 

White Horse's turnover for the first half year grew 5% to RM140mil from RM132.9mil in the corresponding period a year ago. Last year it reported a turnover of RM273.7mil. 

Asked about the shareholding changes among White Horse board members in the last few months, which had triggered some speculation in the market, Liao said they would have no impact on the company's performance, nor was there any hidden agenda. 

Share disposals by the Teo family, including deputy managing director Teo Swee Teng and director Teo Kim Tay, were to raise cash for their personal investment in property development projects in Malacca. 

“Collectively, (the Teo family) still owns about 20% share in White Horse. And in the future, when the opportunity arises, we'd like to buy back some of the shares we've sold,” Swee Teng said. 

Liao and his family bought most of the shares disposed by the Teos, resulting in their collective shareholding in White Horse rising to slightly above 30%. 

The share disposal by White Horse's other deputy managing director, Cheong Soon Mong, on the other hand, was partly to enable the participation of institutional investors. 

“The shareholding changes are strategic alliances. There is no dilution within the group of three main shareholders (the Taiwanese Liaos, the Singaporean Cheongs and Malaysian Teos).  

“We are still in control of the company by virtue of our collective shareholding of more than 51% in White Horse,” Liao said. 

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