Starting new year on positive note


By CY LEE

(From left) SMG chief business officer Lydia Wang, MRCA deputy president Datuk Liew Bin, MRCA president Shirley Tay, SMG chief executive officer Alex Yeow, MRCA past presidents Datuk Seri Garry Chua and Datuk Seri Nelson Kwok, SMG chief content officer Esther Ng and MRCA vice-president Ken Phua.

HAVING just stepped into 2022, the new year brings with it hopes of better business and economic outlook, after almost two years of Covid-19 pandemic hardships.

To kick off the year, Star Media Group (SMG) hosted a Malaysia Retail Chain Association (MRCA) CEO-Get Together, where corporate executives, business owners, directors and industry leaders came together for a casual networking session with a festive Chinese New Year twist.

Donning outfits under the theme of “Aseana”, attendees who included SMG management, Star Outstanding Business Awards sponsors and MRCA’s council members did not shy away from the opportunity to wish for a prosperous Year of the Tiger during the yee sang tossing session.

SMG CEO Alex Yeow greeted the attendees with other senior SMG management staff at the event held in Menara Star, Petaling Jaya.

Also present was SMG chief content officer Esther Ng.

During the welcome session, SMG chief business officer Lydia Wang shared what SMG had in store for the year.

MRCA president Shirley Tay hoped retailers would focus on having a physical presence to rekindle the human connection that has been absent in the past two years.

“I strongly feel that retailers that start servicing customers in person again, will benefit a great deal despite the convenience of online trading,” she said, stressing the importance of interacting with customers.

Tay added that MRCA was looking forward to the recovery phase as well as embarking on more charitable activities for the community this year.

MRCA deputy president Datuk Liew Bin hoped to do more for association members this year.

“At this point in time, we have to work with each other as a community.

“With the Covid-19 safety precautions in place and everyone keeping safe, I’m optimistic that we’ll see at least 5.5% of growth for the country’s economy,” he said.

Maxis Bhd small and medium enterprise (SME) head Kevin Lee remarked that to have CEOs and other decision-makers from various industries together at the start of the year was a good initiative.

“The SME community can really benefit from the engagement and sharing of ideas on how to innovate,” he said.

Matrade strategic planning division senior director Datuk Aureen Jean Nonis said the networking session was a good opportunity to expand their clientele and gather market intelligence and insights.

“We feel 2022 will be a better year for exports than last year, even though the first six months may be similar because of challenges like disruptions to the supply chain, but the second half will be much better when the logistics situation normalises,” she said.

PKT Logistics group chief executive and managing director Datuk Seri Dr Michael Tio was happy to don his batik outfit and meet other executives in a relaxed environment.

“We are glad to be part of this as we get to hear from industry players to find out whether we can expect the market to rebound as we have predicted,” he said.

PKT Logistics chief marketing officer Kuan Eu Jin opined that everyone could benefit from the gathering after almost two long and difficult years.

“There is a sense of camaraderie from all this, and we can all enjoy a little bit as we embark on the new year,” he said.

Credit Guarantee Corporation Malaysia Bhd chief corporate officer Rahim Raduan was excited about the positive GDP forecast for 2022, but remained cautious to monitor repayment trends following the end of the moratorium period.

“From what we can see from the take-up rate of our business development programmes, we also expect local businesses to further explore collaboration opportunities with other businesses, especially among those that have adopted a digital presence and have adapted to the new way of doing business,” he said.

RHB Bank Bhd SME business development head Keith Choo stressed the importance of deciding if businesses should collaborate.

“It depends on what the collaboration is about and which area the industry players are addressing,” he noted.

He added that 2022 would favour players that have accumulated sufficient cash flow to prepare for recovery mode post-pandemic.

Paradise Group Malaysia chief executive officer Elyna Tan said it was a privilege to be part of the small gathering to get a feel of the pulse of the retail industry.

“Based on the recent months in the food and beverage industry, we are optimistic for the first quarter of 2022, especially with the festive season coming,” she said.

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