Facilitating the expansion dream

Judy Zhang, director at Epitex, says: “SBF provided us with valuable resources to kick-start our entry into regional markets.” PHOTO: EPITEX INTERNATIONAL

Amid an uncertain economic environment brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020, homegrown bedlinen and bedding accessories company Epitex International made a decision that many would have baulked at: it decided to expand overseas into neighbouring Malaysia.

To Epitex, the downtime was an opportunity to plan for regionalisation, says Judy Zhang, director at Epitex. “As we have been expanding and establishing our brand in Singapore for the past 20 years, we felt that it was time to explore beyond Singapore to fuel our business growth,” she explains.

Even for a firm with such a long operating history such as Epitex, which was founded in 1997, venturing overseas proved to be challenging. Ms Zhang notes: “As an SME (small and medium-sized enterprise), we did not have adequate knowledge about regional markets and also lacked talent with the experience in regional markets. We didn’t have any local connections and contacts in the regional markets, which proved to be daunting for market entry. In addition, with limited financial resources, there was no room for any mistakes in the implementation of our market entry strategy.”

This prompted the firm to reach out to the Singapore Business Federation (SBF), which it knew had local representative offices in the region and hence possessed strong local connections that would facilitate the setting up of business.

“SBF provided us with valuable resources to kick-start our entry into regional markets. It introduced us to local corporate secretary services, audit companies and relevant consultants to facilitate the setting up of our local office, and provided valuable insights that help guide our formulation of market entry strategies,” says Ms Zhang.

Today, Epitex has placed in Malaysia its e-commerce team and its logistics system that support its online presence. It is also in the process of putting together a retail team for the opening of retail stores in Kuala Lumpur.

The firm has plans to venture into other regional markets such as Vietnam, Thailand, and the Philippines, and is in the process of diversifying its supply chain network to build resilience against possible disruptions. It is also working on supply chain sustainability “to achieve greater environmental stewardship and social responsibility”, according to Ms Zhang.

She adds: “Epitex will continue to tap SBF for assistance because it is earnest in supporting SMEs’ growth. The SBF representatives are able to understand SMEs’ challenges and collectively assist SMEs to lay a robust foundation in regional markets for business initiation.”

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Source: [The Business Times] © SPH Media Limited. Permission required for reproduction.