Customer service key to Jusco success

Stories by Hanim Adnan

CUSTOMERS come first.  

This simple philosophy has made Jaya Jusco Stores Bhd (Jusco) one of Malaysia's leading retailers today with a turnover surpassing RM1bil.  

Jusco, which will celebrate its 20th anniversary next year, operates nine outlets nationwide. It will soon open its 10th outlet in Permas Jaya, Johor, and is slated to open its 11th in Kepong in January next year.  

Soichi Okazaki

Its managing director Soichi Okazaki said the company's success lay in the unique positioning and operation of Jusco's business with a combination of a department store-cum-supermarket and management of shopping centres. 

“Although the group focuses on all businesses within the existing retail framework, we continue to innovate by developing new businesses in general merchandising, which makes us not just a place to shop but also one that enhances customers' lifestyles by offering a wide range of products to cater to their ever-changing desires, preferences and tastes,” he told StarBiz

Okazaki said Jusco recognised the increasingly intense competition in the country's retailing business, especially with the opening of hypermarkets near Jusco premises over the last few years.  

“However, as one of the leading retailers, we recognised these challenges early and through our strategies and measures, we managed to produce impressive performance in our retailing operations and shopping centre management,” he said.  

Poh Ying Loo

According to Okazaki, although hypermarkets are not “direct competitors” of Jusco, the group nevertheless recognises the need to compete to a certain extent with the hypermarkets for the same consumer ringgit, especially in the supermarket section.  

He said while the group's low pricing strategy adopted in October 2001 had been able to match the strategy pricing of hypermarkets, Jusco complemented this pricing plan through its wide range of quality general merchandise, perishables, good eateries and at the same time, ensuring that customers were able to shop and dine in comfort. 

In anticipation of new competition and need to upgrade the store, Okazaki said the group's biggest outlet at 1 Utama had undergone a refurbishment programme, involving expansion of its supermarket and the addition of a new delicatessen as well as a large-scale food court called Arena, and a Do-it-Yourself home centre.  

At the same time, Jusco's J Card loyalty programme has a strong following, being able to boast a membership base of 500,000 nationwide. 

“On average, about 54% of our monthly sales are derived from purchases by J Card members,” Okazaki said.  

Meanwhile, Jusco general manager (finance) Poh Ying Loo said its overall annual maintenance capital expenditure stood at between RM20mil and RM30mil.  

For the financial year ended Feb 28, 2003, its revenue surged to RM1.36bil, up 13.9% from RM1.2bil a year earlier. Pre-tax profit at the group level also grew 13% to RM90.8mil.  

“We had been able to register on average double-digit growth in turnover over the past five years and even during the economic crisis in mid-1997, Jusco sales was only down by 2%,” said Poh.  

For the financial year just ended, retail sales at Jusco's stores in Wangsa Maju, Bandar Puchong, Mid Valley Megamall, Taman Maluri, Ipoh and Malacca posted growth ranging from 7% to 18% over the previous year. 

For the current financial year ending Feb 29, Poh said the group expected to register better sales in anticipation of higher domestic consumer spending in line with economic growth, which was expected to remain resilient, and also due to contribution from the full-year operation of its store in Johor Baru.  

He said Jusco would continue to focus on speeding up shopping centre development, upgrading customer services, human resource and merchandise development, and making its operations more cost efficient.  

Stock Watch On JUSCO<> 

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