The 125 year old family run business offers its products with a touch of heritage and Malay traditions.
The world timeline is studded with events of great historical significance. Turn those history sheets and you will come across legendary men and their stories. Similarly, when more than a century ago Yong Koon set out for Malaysia, leaving his village in China, little did he know that the skills he possessed will give rise to the largest Pewter company in the world. His empire now spans across various countries, the latest one being India.
“Royal Selangor is new in the Indian market as we have not been here for more than 6 months or so. We have begun by setting up two shops and we hope to spread a wider network of retail shops. I feel eventually India would be a big market.” says the Executive Director Chen Tien Yue.
The family run enterprise Royal Selangor is hailed as the world’s foremost name in quality Pewter as they continue to expand their horizons with the recent collaboration with design firm VW+BS.
The company which started in 1885 shifted its focus from making Chinese ceremonial pieces to more utilitarian items, such as European-style cigarette boxes, ashtrays, vases and teapots. The company has indeed made its foray into the Indian market but how well known is it? “It may seem like a very few people know about Royal Selangor but interestingly there are a lot of Indians who know about it already as Indians travel a great deal, especially in Asia. But in the larger market, this brand is not well established and so we need to spread its awareness. Our strength is heritage and design, our focus is quality craftsmanship and hence we need to look at what sort of projects will get this across,” says the executive director. A very good example of such projects would be the Formula 1 trophies made by the company’s pewter smiths for the Malaysia, China and Singapore Grand Prix.
The founder Yong Koon Seong’s tryst with Pewters started at an extremely young age of eleven. Hence, changes are inevitable throughout each generation. Skills of Yong Koon and the tin of Malaysia merged together to give the world gleaming products which owe their shape and lustre to a team that includes designers, model makers, mould makers and engineers. In fact some of the pewters joined the company in 1960s as teenagers.
The responsibility is shared between family and non-family professionals. Prior to joining the family-run concern, the great grandson and chief executive Yoon Li spent nine years in the automotive and motorsports industries in the UK and Malaysia. “Cars have a very narrow product offering and the common thing between the two is getting the right project executers for the job. In the automobile industry there is no luxury of time. Royal Selangor is a 125 year old company, it has been passed on from generation to generation over the years so maintaining and building such a company with a heritage background where tradition is involved is not a cake walk.” says Yoon Li.
The above mentioned advantage also extends when it comes to design forecasting. The directors consider themselves privileged as the product cycle in the design industry is not as short-lived as in fashion or technology. Hence, there is enough time to think and develop the designs. It also entails trend forecasting on websites, visiting trade shows and relying on its different country offices.
For Royal Selangor innovative design is a result of various sources of inspiration, such as the rich heritage and tradition of Malay. Their marketing offices at various places work towards understanding consumer feedback and communicating the same to its headquarters.
Speaking about the common factor between the two Asian countries, India and Malaysia the director comments, “Both the countries have similar and somewhat structured taste. The design aesthetics are very young and peppy. We have confidence in our local designers, aesthetics and our culture and it is this that gives confidence to our Asian friends. We Asians like to communicate via art.”
He also adds, “Some Asian countries themselves are very inclined towards American or European products which I feel will change and fair attention will now be granted to Asian products.”
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