Bumiputera Traders Urge Malls To Allot Better Spots For Them Instead Of Global Brands

According to Mohamed Mustakim Manaz, domestic businesses in Thailand and Indonesia are often given priority to operate in strategic spots.

Cover image via Berita Harian & Mostafa Meraji (Unsplash)

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On 25 November, it was reported that Bumiputera traders are seeking the government's support and intervention to obtain business spaces in prestigious shopping malls and other strategic locations in the country

Bumiputera Retailers Organisation secretary-general Mohamed Mustakim Manaf.

Image via Berita Harian

According to Bumiputera Retailers Organisation secretary-general Mohamed Mustakim Manaf, very few Bumiputera traders are able to afford the rental rate for business premises in shopping malls.

"What frustrates us more is that Bumiputera traders are often placed at non-strategic spots, while the prime locations are allotted to the global brands, even though we pay the same rent.

"In Thailand and Indonesia, domestic businesses are often given priority to operate in strategic spots," Mustakim said, as quoted by the New Straits Times.

He also added that it's quite unfortunate that shopping malls in the country do not have the same mindset. 

To help curb this issue, Johor Muar Bariani House restaurant owner, Fallah Ishak, is urging the government to implement a 20% quota of business spaces in shopping malls to be allocated to Bumiputera traders

Johor Muar Bariani House restaurant owner Fallah Ishak.

Image via New Straits Times (Edited by SAYS)

According to Fallah, the action is necessary as those managing shopping malls often prioritise large franchises and sideline Bumiputera traders when renting out business spaces.

"Bumiputera tenants can compete with big brands, but we are often denied strategic business spaces to operate from," Fallah stated, adding that they are not expecting subsidies from the government. 

"We just want the government to intervene and ensure that we are given fair and equal opportunities to conduct business.

"Government-linked companies (GLCs) that manage shopping malls should be more sensitive to Bumiputera traders during this COVID-19 pandemic by providing reasonable rebates to us. However, despite our competitiveness, GLCs often reject our applications to rent business spaces because they are not confident in our products," he said. 

Fallah also said that he recently had to close an outlet that has been operating for years in a renowned shopping mall in the heart of Kuala Lumpur

"My landlord refused to negotiate with the mall management to retain my business. I lost a long-operating outlet because of this," he said.

Fallah also hopes that the government would roll out more business courses for Bumiputera traders to help ease their access to loans and credit facilities.

Meanwhile, on 18 November, the Bumiputera Prosperity Council that is chaired by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob discovered that many Bumiputera traders were facing a similar plight as Fallah

The council found that the presence of Bumiputera traders was still low, especially when it came to ownership of business spaces in prestigious shopping malls and tourist spots.

This led to the council agreeing to implement several measures to resolve this issue, which included conducting a review on the management of GLC-owned shopping malls. This ultimately helped to ensure that they can be managed by local companies to prioritise the interest of Bumiputera traders.

Additionally, the council recommended establishing a quota for Bumiputera-owned business premises in strategic locations, in order to increase their competitiveness and strengthen the Bumiputera economy

Co-founder of Elriana Legacy (M) Sdn Bhd Dailami Daniel Mat Nor

Image via New Straits Times (Edited by SAYS)

Co-founder of Elriana Legacy (M) Sdn Bhd, Dailami Daniel Mat Nor, lauded the initiative, adding that the government's intervention is crucial to facilitate the expansion of Bumiputera-owned businesses.

"For example, I was offered a business space to operate at Berjaya Times Square through the Urban Youth Entrepreneurship Development programme by the Federal Territories Ministry.

"Other agencies, such as the Bumiputera Agenda Steering Unit and SME Corp Malaysia, should implement similar initiatives since there are many suitable business spaces for Bumiputera-owned businesses to operate from," he said. 

Moreover, Dailami shared that one of the main reasons why Bumiputera traders are not able to rent business spaces in prestigious shopping malls is due to the high rental rates

"The shopping mall's management also usually demand for excessively high deposits from Bumiputera traders, which constrains their business capital.

"This practice usually turns away traders who register smaller profit margins despite investing high amounts of business capital."

Due to this, Dailami is urging the GLCs and Bumiputera traders to discuss and develop a reasonable and affordable rental package. 

He added that shopping malls should also consider designating special zones for Bumiputera-owned businesses to operate from.

Dailami also suggested for the government to rope in more local companies into pre-franchising programmes, so that they could compete with international brands in the long run.

To add on, Aducktive Food Sdn Bhd chief executive officer, Mohamad Anif Azami, called on the government to nurture more Bumiputera-owned small and medium enterprises to penetrate the international market

Aducktive Food chief executive officer Mohamad Anif Azami with his wife and the company’s director, Nor Shahira Kamaruzaman.

Image via New Straits Times

"The government has rolled out many allocations and funding initiatives for Bumiputera traders. Now, it is time to embark on more focused intervention strategies.

"We have to identify Bumiputera with expertise and provide them with the right marketing tools and business strategies.

"For instance, the government should organise more trade exhibitions for Bumiputera traders to market their products to foreign countries.

"A robust intervention model should also be developed to elevate Bumiputera-owned brands into globally renowned brands," Anif stated.

Written by: Dhesegaan Bala Krishnan

This article originally appeared on New Straits Times, with rights to be republished on SAYS.

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