First Appeared on 26th October 2023 on Business Today
In an exclusive interview with BusinessToday, Anne Chua, Chief Supply Chain Officer of Niro Ceramic Group, shares insights on how the company maintains its leadership in the niche tile industry.
She discusses market trends, strategies employed during the pandemic, and the crucial role of technology and stakeholder collaboration in promoting an ethical supply chain culture.
Staying Ahead of Market Trends
“Our commitment to staying at the forefront of market trends in the tile industry lies in our dynamic product development process. Our dedicated product development team constantly explores innovative materials and designs, ensuring that our tiles align with contemporary aesthetics and functional requirements,” says Anne Chua.
The company maintains a collaborative dialogue with its customers, including architects, designers, property developers, contractors, and homeowners. Chua emphasises, “This hands-on approach, coupled with our ability to offer customisation and our regular trend analysis, allows us to anticipate shifts in customer preferences and meet their evolving needs effectively.”
Current State of the Malaysian Tile Industry
Regarding the Malaysian tile industry, Chua notes, “The demand for tiles in Malaysia is experiencing growth, primarily driven by the rising construction activities in the country.” She highlights the increasing emphasis on sustainability, saying, “Environmental consciousness and sustainable construction practices are rapidly gaining ground, with a growing demand for eco-friendly building materials and solutions.”
Strategies During the Pandemic
“We responded to the challenges of the pandemic with a multifaceted approach,” Chua explains. “This included diversifying supply chains to ensure the availability of essential materials, swiftly transitioning to remote work arrangements where possible, and accelerating digital transformation efforts.” Meticulous inventory management also played a crucial role, maintaining a balance between supply and demand.
Supply Chain Resilience Strategies
“Prior supply chain resilience strategies were instrumental during the pandemic,” Chua affirms. “Measures such as diversifying supply sources, investing in digital technologies for efficient inventory management, and fostering strong collaborative relationships with suppliers ensured that we could respond effectively, maintain product availability, and continue serving our customers seamlessly.”
Role of Technology in Ethical Supply Chain Practices
“Technology serves as the backbone of our ethical supply chain practices,” Chua says. “We are able to track production, analyze real-time data for prompt interventions, and maintain a ledger of transactions for verification. We commit to collaborative platforms to foster constant communication with suppliers, guaranteeing adherence to ethical standards.”
Collaboration with Stakeholders for Ethical Culture
Chua highlights the importance of stakeholders in promoting an ethical supply chain culture. “We place a strong emphasis on fostering an ethical supply chain management culture by engaging closely with our stakeholders,” she notes. “This commitment starts with suppliers, where we maintain open channels of communication by setting clear ethical guidelines.”
Within the organisation, employees are educated about the importance of ethical practices, and a grievance mechanism is in place to address concerns. Chua concludes, “Customers, as crucial stakeholders, are informed about the company’s initiatives, enabling them to make informed choices. We believe that this multi-pronged approach emphasises transparency, responsibility, and collaboration among all of our stakeholders, with the aim of reinforcing a collective dedication to ethical sourcing and manufacturing practices.”