PETALING JAYA: Coca-Cola Bottlers Malaysia, which has made an accumulative investment of RM1.5bil, is not ruling out further significant investments in the country in a move by the international bottler to strengthen its market presence.
Chief executive officer for Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei Gareth McGeown told StarBiz that the company had made the accumulative investment since 2010, adding that significant infrastructure investment would continue to be made to gain market share and brand presence.
“Our investment of RM1.5bil is inclusive of planned plant expansion to house automated warehouse with automated storage and retrieval system. We intend to help Malaysia become a halal production hub in South-East Asia.
“Our products are halal certified and we distribute it to Singapore and Brunei which are manufactured at our plant in Bandar Enstek, Negri Sembilan. The total built-up area of the plant is 12.545ha.
“We have more than 300 products which are manufactured at the plant and recently has added a new production line. The company is finalising an automated warehouse, possibly the biggest in South-East Asia, scheduled to be operational in November,” he told StarBiz.
McGeown noted that with the country’s strong economy, coupled with its young population, there is no doubt that the company would make further investments. Although there is tough competition in the fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) business, he is optimistic that Coca-Cola Bottlers would be able to compete and draw customers to its products and strengthen its brand presence.
“The only way to move forward is to be innovative and churn out products that the customer really wants. For example, we recently launched Coca-Cola Stevia, which is 35% less sweet and Coca-Cola with zero sugar content. These products are doing well and have helped in our sales growth.
At the same time, we are looking closely at consumer trends to beef up the company’s brand presence and market share,” he said.
On talent pool, he said the company would develop local talents to help its business grow further.
It has close to 1,000 employees, between the ages of 32 and 34. “We see great young talents in Malaysia as the country’s average population, about 45%, consists of those below 30 years. At present, more than 90% of the company’s workforce consists of local and young talents.
“Coca-Cola Bottlers intend to have its entire staff to be Malaysians with a strong talent pool. We have our regional team coming to Malaysia to be trained by locals and have envisioned to have Malaysian talents to be exported to our global offices,” he added.
At the leadership level, McGeown said it was, among others, using Harvard case studies for training purposes to boost talentship in the company and to enhance their knowledge and skills in relevant areas.
In terms of staff retention, he said the average turnover of employees is 3% to 4%, which is one of the lowest in the FMCG industry.
“The company is investing heavily on people to develop talents in various areas. If you have the best products, and a strong talent pool, there is no reason why it cannot grow and capture a bigger slice of the market,” he added.