Royal Selangor, a Malaysian pewter manufacturer and retailer that started almost 130 years ago, is the largest of its type in the world. It is known as the Icon of Malaysia. Royal Selangor is a classic example of a brand that combines the Asian heritage with global aspirations for growth. By leveraging on historic and contemporary designs, it has maintained a certain aura around the brand. It has remained relevant to the times and launched new designs that appeal to the younger crowd and the brand has been elevating a non-luxury product beyond just a commodity.
Royal Selangor is still, a family controlled organization and has managed to build a strong international brand with a balanced combination of innovative designs and high quality products. Having established a good reputation internationally, Royal Selangor has often been cited as a role model for aspiring Malaysian brands venturing overseas. It is simply, “Malaysia’s gift to the world”.
In 1992, the company changed its name from Selangor Pewter to Royal Selangor to reflect its royal endorsement from His Royal Highness The Sultan of Selangor that time, Almarhum Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Shah, and to reflect its diverse product range, which has extended beyond pewter.
It has diversified into other precious metals, but never forsook the bread and butter of pewter. In 1993, Royal Selangor acquired Comyns, one of the oldest silver smiths in the world along with its treasure of over 35,000 drawings.
In 1999, Royal Selangor has diversified into the production of items in other materials such as wood, gypsum, bonded porcelain and precious metals, including silver and gold, through its newly created, wholly-owned subsidiaries Selberan Co.
Sdn. Bhd. , Comyns and Selcraft Sdn. Bhd. , which manufactures crystal, 18K gold and silver jewellery. Selberan Co. Sdn. Bhd. has two factories, also based in Setapak, which operate under a separate manufacturing licence.
The Royal Selangor’s ultimate holding company is Kai Holdings Sdn Bhd, with paid-up capital of RM1. 2 million, which in turn wholly owns Royal Selangor, Royal Selangor Marketing Sdn Bhd, Selberan Co. and a couple of other dormant companies. The directors of Kai Holdings are all equal shareholders and are incidentally founder’s grandson- Datuk Yong Poh Kon’s siblings. (Source: Steven K C Poh, Business Times (Companies/Markets) Sep 14, 1999) In 2000, the spirit of innovation of Royal Selangor extends beyond products. Catering to the increasingly sophisticated tastes of its customers, Royal Selangor brings a fresh and contemporary look to its outlets, starting with its flagship store at Suria KLCC.
The store offers a chic and comfortable setting where customers can take their time to explore and rediscover pewter at its best, alongside with international names like Hugo Boss, Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Braun Buffel and many more. It is a stepping stone for the company towards strengthening its brand name. Canada’s largest pewter maker – Seagull Pewter – was bought into the portfolio in 2002. These bold brand acquisitions have enabled the Royal Selangor brand to establish a firm foothold in international markets. This illustrates brand acquisition as a feasible growth strategy for Asian corporations.
In December 2003, Malaysia’s oldest and most renowned name in pewter launches a new landmark for Malaysians and foreign visitors alike – a world-class establishment known as the Royal Selangor Visitor Centre. It has added yet another milestone to its long and illustrious brand history with the unveiling of the visitor center, which is now a focal point for people to not only learn more about our company but also about the rich history and promising future of pewter in Malaysia. The Mission Royal Selangor is truly an international manufacturer of high quality pewter.
This is perhaps best reflected in its mission, which is to “take pride in the endeavour to be recognised for excellence in design, manufacture and marketing of high quality gifts and tableware. ” When one mentions pewter, the name Royal Selangor comes straight to mind. The brand’s long tradition for quality and style has ensured its success. Today, Royal Selangor is one of the few international brands recognised around the world. The Humble Beginnings Like so many successful brands, the world’s most famous and largest producer and distributor of pewter goods, owes its modern-day success to the humblest of beginnings.
It all started when a 14-year-old pewter smith named Yong Koon sailed and arrived in Malaya in 1885 from the Chinese port of Swatow with nothing but his pewter-smith apprenticeship and a small set of tools. He opened up his little shop called Ngeok Foh (Jade Peace) where the customers were the early Chinese settlers who were setting up new homes in Kuala Lumpur. The company then made items mainly for ceremonial use – such as joss-stick holders, incense burners and candle-stands for altars in Chinese homes and temples.
As the British presence in Malaya grew, the company started producing functional European-styled cigarette boxes, tankards, ashtrays and teapots. The brand was then known as Selangor Pewter. By the global depression of the 1930s, Koon had 22 employees producing an assortment of functional household products such as cups and cigarette tins. In 1968, the brand opened its first retail location. A seemingly small step, this first showroom ensured that Selangor controlled all phases in the production and sale of its products, and thusly, complete control over the fate of the brand.
In the 1970s, the company started exporting, first to Singapore and Hong Kong and then to Australia. Towards the 1980s, the market expanded into Europe and later into Japan. Products In its humble vicinity, the brand has a huge range of products to offer. Royal Selangor has over 1,000 product offerings including wine accessories, wedding collection, tableware, cigar accessory, cutlery, compass, desk accessories, figurines, plaques, trophies, goblets, chess sets and those inspired by the products of the Victoria Albert Museum in London.
The company also makes customised corporate gifts and commemorative items for specific events such as the Sydney Olympics and the F1 event in Malaysia. Royal Selangor pewter is composed of tin, with a small proportion of copper and antimony added to strengthen it. Unlike pewter in the olden days, pewter produced by Royal Selangor does not contain lead, and adheres to international standards. Apart from pewter items, Royal Selangor also manufactures non-pewter items such as gold, silver, porcelain and wood.
The company has diversified extending its business to the design, manufacture and marketing of precious jewellery and 925 hallmarked sterling silver. Under the names of Selberan and Comyns, each individual company strives to create things of beauty, maintaining the tradition of excellence and innovation synonymous with Royal Selangor. Royal Selangor maintains stringent standards of quality control such that any item that does not meet these standards is rejected. It is certainly assuring to know that no Royal Selangor tea or coffee pot will ever drip because each spout has been flawlessly designed and crafted.
The company now exports to a multitude of countries, or so to speak, five continents, and has retail outlets scattered about the globe. Yet, not forsaking its roots, Royal Selangor operates more than 30 showrooms in Malaysia. Internationally, it is distributed in more than 20 countries around the world through its 40 retail shops as well as a network of distributors. Royal Selangor is available in fine stores such as Harrods, Selfridges and John Lewis in United Kingdom, Illums Bolighus in Copenhagen and Wako and Mitsukoshi in Japan to name just a few.
Its own retail outlets in London, Toronto, Melbourne, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Singapore and many more. The company has ten marketing offices complete with warehousing facilities around the world. This includes Australia, Canada, United Kingdom, Unites States, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, China, Thailand and Malaysia and a network of exclusive distribution agents in the rest of the markets. Company Branding Strategy Malaysian brand walking tall- is what Royal Selangor resembles. Recognized for its triumphant brand strategy, Royal Selangor was identified as one of Asia’s top 50 brands in Business Times.
It has maintained a certain aura around the brand. Today, Royal Selangor is one of the few international brands recognised around the world. It that has been involved in the process of branding itself ever since the 1950’s when brochures depicting new products and designs were sent to customers in countries like America and Germany. Originally known as Selangor Pewter, the company produced catalogues to show a more comprehensive product line. This effort was formalised in the 1970s through an official design department within the company.