The president of the world’s leading producer of melamine tableware explains the company’s success and plans for the future.
As the world’s largest manufacturer of 100% melamine tableware, Srithai Superware is continuing to develop and offer new styles of products to meet the latest global trends and consumer requirements in every corner of the globe.
According to the DITP, Thai exports of tableware and kitchenware amounted to US$779.69 million in 2016, about US$143.20 million of which was in plastics. In the first half of this year, the exports of plastic tableware and kitchenware reached US$65.47 million with overall tableware and kitchenware exports totalling US$357.96 million.
“Customer-oriented product development is what we do at Srithai Superware,” Sanan Angubolkul, the company’s chairman and president, says. “Our local distributors in particular markets give input about consumer requirements, and our research and development team works closely with them and our material suppliers to make it a reality. However, we have to ensure that new products will be competitive and marketable before starting the production process.”
With over 50 years of experience in this industry, the company manufactures melamine tableware under its own brand – Superware – as well as operating as an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) for several well-known brands in the West.
“In the past several years, people are more keen to buy natural products or products with a natural look and texture. So, we have developed our Sila collection, which is melamine tableware with a natural stone texture,” Angubolkul explains. “It is a breakthrough innovation for the melamine industry, and to this day no other company can replicate what we do.”
In 2012, the company launched lifestyle brand The Potters to attract younger consumers, with melamine tableware, printed fabric-made kitchenware and handbags.
“We created a key design concept for The Potters. All products are presented through the stories of characters under a design concept, which is influenced by 17th century classical Europe,” Angubolkul adds. “It is an innovation for us too as these are not ordinary melamine products, but lifestyle items with a brand’s unique story. This has helped us create a new consumer base.”
Srithai Superware now exports its products to over 100 countries worldwide. In addition to Thailand, it has factories in China, India, Indonesia and Vietnam, which mainly manufacture products for domestic markets. Further factories in Myanmar, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka are in the pipeline. “The company is consistently exploring new business opportunities in our existing markets and new markets to mitigate the risk of any economic downturn,” Angubolkul says.
The DITP awarded Srithai Superware the Prime Minister’s Award for Best Exporter in 2016, in recognition of its outstanding success on global markets. The company has also been accredited with the Thailand Trust Mark (T Mark), which is the symbol of excellence and trusted quality in production, fair labour, and environmental and social responsibility.
Words by Somhatai Mosika
Selic, a Thai manufacturer that specializes in adhesives shows how embracing innovation has helped it expand beyond local markets.
Adhesives are an integral part of everyday objects. From food and beverage packaging, footwear, sports equipment, furniture to books, adhesives are utilised across various industries. As demand for adhesives grow, the worldwide adhesive industry is expected to reach US$59.7 billion in 2020 with the Asia-Pacific region accounting for the highest growth.
Thai company Selic, founded thirty-seven years ago, is a big exporter and producer of industrial adhesives catering to a broad range of business sectors.
“The most important thing Selic offers is innovation,” says Ek Suwatthanaphim, CEO of Selic Corporation. “We focus on technology, solutions, quality and service, which enable us to compete internationally. Our products are tailor-made for each customer and the quality is consistent. Service is also crucial as we give adhesive technical training and support.”
Selic produces a variety of adhesives from contact cement, water-based adhesives to hot melt adhesives, with each suitable for different materials and industries.
“Now we are working on procuring raw material domestically, which allows the company to manage our supply chain efficiently,” says Suwatthanaphim. “An innovation that our researchers are working on with King Mongkut's University of Technology Thonburi is how to use cassava and sugar cane in producing biodegradable acid hot melt adhesives, which is expected to be completed in 2019.”
Suwatthanaphim adds that in the past 10 years Selic has dedicated more resources to R&D to increase exports. Selic’s R&D laboratories are separated into an R&D lab, an analytical lab and an application lab where products are tested before shipping to customers. The company also uses more eco-friendly raw materials while developing low volatility organic compounds to reduce its impact on the environment.
In 2016, overseas sales increased by 90%, mostly due to orders from Asia and Africa. Selic’s products are now exported to 27 countries worldwide, with Australia and Vietnam also growing markets.
However, Suwatthanaphim feels that customer trust, rather than technology is what fuels business growth. “I still believe that the best interaction you can have with customers is face-to-face,” he says. “Customers need to be able to trust us and to know that we can find solutions for their products.”
Selic was also awarded the Thailand Trust Mark, or T Mark symbol, by the DITP in 2016. This guarantees the company’s environmental and social commitment, fair labour practices, and that its products are of the highest quality.
For more information, visit www.seliccorp.com
Words by Pimsirinuch Borsub
Authentic Thai tastes prepared to international standards is the recipe for the continued success of restaurant chain Blue Elephant.
Nooror Somany Steppe, founding partner and director of Blue Elephant, Thai fine dining restaurant, believes that Thai restaurateurs have one advantage over other cuisines in the global market.
“A variety of flavors in one dish that is the standout of Thai food,” she says. “Thai food entrepreneurs can promote this point for products and services for distribution in local and global markets.”
Currently, Blue Elephant has eight branches around the world in Brussels – which was the first restaurant – Paris, Jakarta, Dubai, Copenhagen, Malta as well as Bangkok and Phuket in Thailand.
“The main thing is to bring fresh and good quality ingredients to cook authentic Thai food combined with international standardized production controls such as the BRC standard,” she says. “This allows consumers to trust our Blue Elephant brand.”
Blue Elephant has played a significant role in establishing the fine reputation for Thai food around the world, especially due to its involvement with the DITP in a wide range of activities, such as the promotion of the Thai food market in Africa and being selected for Milan Design Week 2017 as part of the Thai Brand Heroes Project - Thailand Heart-made Nation, which represents a new business model, incorporating innovation and creativity to create a global brand.
“In South Africa, our products are available at Woolworths including green curry, red curry, coconut cream and Thai cooking sets,” she says.
Nooror believes that street food is a fast growing global food trend, as is Asian cuisine. “It is a popular fast food that reflects the tastes and cultures of the people in that country,” she says. “Asian food is also growing in popularity, especially Thai food. It is important to maintain the identity and taste of authentic Thai food to the highest level.”
Restaurants are increasingly selling fusion food, with the main competitors to Thai cuisine being Vietnamese and Japanese. Another trend, especially in Europe is for health food that is both tasty and cheap.
“Restaurants need to find a way to promote health-oriented food along with traditional flavours at affordable price. The main target is young urban professionals and expats who are most likely to prefer takeaway and delivery services,” Nooror says.
Recently, Blue Elephant was ranked as one of 150 leading restaurants in Bangkok in the Thailand Tatler Best Restaurants Awards 2017. Nooror is particularly proud of this accolade.
“This award marks the score of a poll conducted by readers and editors of the Thailand Tatler Magazine who send their critics to our place without notice in order to avoid receiving special service from the restaurant,” she says.
Words by Natthinee Ratanaprasidhi
Digital content is currently one of the promising industries in Thailand, especially in the gaming sector.
Thailand’s digital content is a booming economy. In 2015 the market value of the digital content industry amounted to US$353 million (12 billion baht), with exports reaching some US$44 million (1.5 billion baht), according to Chatchai Khunpitiluk, who was addressing the Bangkok International Digital Content Festival 2017 on March 8.
The acting specialist assistant to the director of the Digital Economy Promotion Agency (DEPA), Ministry of Digital Economy and Society, forecasts that the animation market will expand by 5% in 2017, with the gaming market growing in excess of 22%.
MAD Virtual Reality Studio, is just one company that demonstrates the industry’s bright future. Founded in 2015, it spent 13 months producing the horror game ARAYA, which was launched the following year to positive feedback from players worldwide.
Set in an abandoned hospital, the Thai female ghost horror game has now achieved internationally acclaim with its teaser viewed 50 million times on YouTube.
“Thailand is outstanding in digital content production,” said Alan Archapilasa, founder and chief executive officer of MAD VRS. “Foreign customers were surprised when they saw our game for the first time as they thought foreign countries such as Japan and the US would outsource graphic and animation works to Thailand. But, now Thailand can produce a game which is compatible with visual reality technology.”
Now ARAYA is sold worldwide to the US, Germany, China, Japan and South Korea.
Apart from its popularity with gamers around the world, ARAYA also received the Excellent Game of the Year prize from the Bangkok International Digital Content Festival 2017.
In addition to developing games, MAD VRS produces mobile game applications for entertainment featuring popular stars and celebrities, and B2G business innovations for state agencies.
Archapilasa has great confidence that the company will work on the success of ARAYA to create more projects that he believes will be successful on the world market.
“We are confident that our new products will get very good feedback from people worldwide again. This is because we have already proved that our capability is now widely accepted and it is clearly second to none,” he said.
For more information, please visit: www. madvrstudio.com
Photo courtesy of MAD Virtual Reality Studio Co., Ltd
Words by Patcharee Taedangpetch
Having set alight the runways of Vienna, Thai fashion brand Black Sugar is set to take off to international markets.
Despite the fast changing trends within the global fashion industry some things are written in black and white – such as the immortal appeal of the simple colours.
“To make black and white clothes, we do not expect all people to like our products,” says Methawee Angthong, creator of the Black Sugar fashion brand. “But we believe that there must be a group of people who love the same style as us. Black Sugar's clothing really does not have a target age.”
Angthong was selected at the DITP’s Bangkok International Fashion Fair (BIFF) to bring her Black Sugar collection to the MQ Vienna Fashion Week in 2016, an important showcase for the burgeoning reputation that Thai designers are developing within the fashion world.
The fashion designer’s research indicates that people wear black and white clothing for many occasions, from casual to formal wear or even to party. She believes this enables her to create a strong brand based solely on these two colours.
“Black represents strength, and sugar shows a hidden sweetness, so Black Sugar is a mix of sweet coolness,” she says.
Even though she does not yet carry out any online marketing, Angthong states the quality of her clothing attracts a wide client base. “Our customers say they love our patterns and the delicate details in the design,” she says.
The proof of Black Sugar’s export success is clear to see, with 40% of sales to the domestic market and 60% to overseas customers in Greece, India, Taiwan, Cuba, South Korea and Dubai. “A Korean buyer has contacted us to open Black Sugar over there,” Angthong adds.
As for the Thai fashion industry, Angthong sees a bright future, and believes that Thai brands have great potential to reach international markets.
“I think there is more awareness and support from the government for the Thai fashion industry,” she says. “This is good because it improves our reputation in international markets. Many Thai brands have the potential to market internationally.”
Angthong says that everyone has ability and talent, the point is how to find the right channel to use them. “People should find a way to stimulate and practice their own ability until the right opportunity comes along, then they will be able to grab it confidently.”
For more information, please visit www.facebook.com/blacksugarbrand
Words by Natthinee Ratanaprasidhi