Thursday, November 20, 2008

Cheetah shifts to high gear

Having been in the sports and casual wear retail industry for three decades, the Cheetah brand has seen steady growth, especially as the number of shopping malls in Malaysia increases.

The company is now shifting up a gear.

“It may be easy to own a brand but a lot of efforts is required to build a strong brand that is easily acceptable or recognisable by the market,” Cheetah chairman and managing director Chia Kee Foo, 46, told StarBiz in an interview. “We should not limit ourselves only to the sports wear and casual wear segments while there is a huge untapped market out there.”

The family business was founded by Chia Yoon Yuen, his wife Hor Ah Kuan and their son Kee Yew, in 1977.

They initially operated out of their single-storey house in Kuala Lumpur with three staff. As the business grew, they moved to a double-storey house, then a shoplot in Taman Maluri in Cheras.

Today, Cheetah is listed on the Bursa Malaysia main board and operates out of a 16,000 sq ft factory in Taman Shamelin Perkasa. It has six home-grown brands: Cheetah, Cheetah Ladies, Cheetah Junior, Cth Unlimited, C-two and C. Union.

It is also the sole distributor for Ladybird children’s wear and GQ men’s office wear.

Chia was roped in to assist his mother in 1979, after his father passed away. He was only 17.

He and his elder brother quickly discovered that it was easier for a product with an easy-to-recognise brand name to get repeat purchases. They then decided on Cheetah as their brand name, and the rest, as they say, is history.

“A cheetah is a unique animal with remarkable speed. We want to move ahead aggressively like one,” Chia said. - The Star