Juice maker Malee eyes B1.5bn overhaul

Juice maker Malee eyes B1.5bn overhaul

Change in strategy to back global aspirations

Ms Roongchat says the group will use what it calls the 4R strategy to drive business.
Ms Roongchat says the group will use what it calls the 4R strategy to drive business.

Malee Group Plc, one of the country's top juice makers, plans to spend 1.5 billion baht to transform the company into a health-driven global food and drink firm by 2021.

Chief executive Roongchat Boonyarat said the business will undergo a change in direction using the 4R strategy to rebrand, recognise, renovate and reconnect.

The changes are meant to promote sustainable growth, reduce risk from internal and external factors and spur sales, which are estimated to rise by 10-15% this year from 6.54 billion baht in 2016.

The rebranding manifested in last year's change from Malee Sampran to Malee Group, aiming to modernise the brand identity. Packaging redesign and new product development align with the group's goal of focusing on health-driven products.

Ms Roongchat said the group has lessened its emphasis on Malee fruit juice as it recognises other products such as nuts and corn.

Malee Group has also set up two new units -- a business development unit and an international business unit -- to support the global brand initiative and operations for future growth as part of the strategic restructuring.

For renovation, the group has budgeted more than 1.5 billion baht for 2016-18 to improve work processes and install new machinery to beef up efficiency. The aim is to add 30 million litres to the existing 300 million litres of annual production capacity.

This is an initial step to prepare for the growth of domestic and overseas market demand, Ms Roongchat said.

The reconnect strategy will spur Malee Group to seek greater collaboration with partners who have expertise in different areas, including new product development, R&D for production technology and sales channel development.

For example, the group has set up a joint venture with Monde Nissin, a leading consumer goods firm in the Philippines.

The venture, called Monde Malee Beverage Corporation, began marketing drinks last year. Malee holds a 49% stake in the joint venture with registered capital of 240 million baht.

Products already launched in the Philippines include a ready-to-drink iced coffee and a jelly drink. The venture may set up a factory in the Philippines, where the drink market is 10-20% bigger than Thailand's.

In addition, the company has joined with Mega Lifesciences, a maker of pharmaceutical and health items, to sell ready-to-drink natural products. The range will be launched in the Thai market in the fourth quarter of this year.

The annual market turnover as of March for fruit juice in Thailand was about 14 billion baht, according to Malee Group.

For 2016, the group reported revenue of 6.54 billion baht for a net profit of 530 million baht.

In the first quarter of this year, revenue narrowed by 1% but net profit surged 8% to 118 million baht.

Malee Group began making canned fruit and fruit juice in Thailand 40 years ago and has gradually expanded into cereal drinks and dairy products under the Chokchai Farm brand.

Some 57% of Malee's revenue stems from the domestic market, with the rest coming from 40 countries such as Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam, the Philippines and the US.

Sales include drinks bearing Malee's own brand, as well as labels under contract.

MALEE shares closed yesterday on the Stock Exchange of Thailand at 39.25 baht, unchanged, in trade worth 6.79 million baht.

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