“We also started out as a small kedai runcit,” says Mydin Mohamed Holdings Bhd director Datuk Ameer Ali Mydin when asked why hypermarkets are helping their competitors traditional sundry shops grow. There is room for different types of retailers, small and big, in the market, insists Ameer Ali. “It does not serve anyone if all the traditional businesses die.
Contrary to common perception, it is not good for hypermarkets if the sundry shops are put out of business,” says the head honcho of the famous local hypermarket chain. MYDIN is one of the three pioneer hypermarket partners, along with Tesco and Carrefour, in the TUKAR programme when it was introduced last year. The success of TUKAR in transforming some 519 grocery stores into modern “mini marts” saw nine other market players jump on board the programme as consultants to revive another 500 stores this year.
As Ameer Ali puts it, participating in TUKAR is also a way for the hypermarkets to give back to the community. Now that MYDIN operates 94 outlets nationwide- nine hypermarkets, 18 emporiums, three bazaars, 52 mini-marts (MyMydin), nine convenience stores (MyMart) and six franchise outlets (Mydin Mart) many might find it hard to imagine its humble origins as a small wooden shop in 1957 in Kota Baru. MYDIN first got on board to TUKAR after participating in one of the initial NKEA labs, where the idea was first mooted. “We felt strongly about participating because we felt that we had a lot of knowledge and experience to share with the small retailers, especially in stock management from how to catalogue products to how to sell them,” says Ameer Ali, adding that many do not keep track of their stock, much less analyse the data as in what sells and what does not.
Last year, MYDIN was tasked with “modernising” 100 selected sundry shops across the country, for which they also provided training on how to upgrade their business. Like the other hypermarket partners, MYDIN also provided assistance and guidance after the transformation process. According to Ameer Ali, MYDIN spent up to RM20,000 for each shop they provided consultation for, specifically in travel expenses and allowance for their staff involved in TUKAR. But it was well worth it, he says, adding that it is good for the heart. “The best thing is to see the shops transformed completely.
And most of the time the shop owners also transform' when their shop is upgraded they dress better and look better as they feel better. Most importantly, he says, he just wanted to share MYDIN's experience and impress on the small retailers that anyone can do it; they too can make their dream a reality to expand their business. “After I graduated from a university in the United States, I too was reluctant to join the family business and went to work at a bank. When I finally decided to take over, I realised that we had to modernise to survive,” he tells, stressing that MYDIN grew not due to a magic wand but with some strategic changes and lots of hard work. Global retailer Tesco was put in charge of 101 shops under TUKAR last year.
Their consultation does not stop when the transformation is completed, says Tesco spokesperson, Communications Manager Rohazida Mohamed. “After the store is transformed, we continued to monitor and support our store owner for a few months, or, as when the shop owners sought our advice. “As the transformation made goes beyond just a physical renovation, we visited the shops again on monthly basis at the least (within the six months after completion of the transformation). However, some shops don't really require attentive guidance as they are able to learn fast,” she says. Sundry shops that don't perform well will be given extra help.
“Those who don't perform up to expectations due to various reasons will be given advice on pricing as well as exposure to new ranges of products and new services like prepaids, photocopying to draw in more customers and increase sale. A big part of this success is the perseverance and attitude of the shop owner towards his business,” she stresses, adding that Tesco will monitor the sales performance of all the Tukar shops after their transformation for at least six months to ensure they follow their work standards. This year, Tesco's commitment is to transform 100 shops, of which they have completed 18.