Wolfgang Baier was the CEO of SingPost for 5 years. Source: Tech in Asia

Wolfgang Baier was the CEO of SingPost for 5 years. Source: Tech in Asia

Wolfgang Baier, SingPost’s former CEO, will assume the role of group CEO at beauty products distributor Luxasia Group, reports Tech in Asia. The founder, Patrick Chong, stepped down as CEO to assume the role of chairman. His son and daughter remain in management roles in the privately held company.

This move comes after his high profile resignation from SingPost, where he spent five years as CEO transforming the logistics company to an ecommerce logistics firm.

Luxasia Group’s future

Luxasia Group is a family run beauty products distributor that manages a portfolio of more than 120 international fragrance, cosmetics, skincare and professional salon brands such as Clarins, Estee Lauder, Ferragamo, Hermes and Shiseido. It has 11 offices in the region, and more than 2,000 full-time employees in Singapore according to Straits Times.

Luxasia manages a portfolio of more than 120 international fragrance, cosmetics, skincare and professional salon brands such as Clarins, Estee Lauder, Ferragamo, Hermes and Shiseido. It has 11 offices in the region, and more than 2,000 full-time employees in Singapore.

The company has stated that it is embarking on an omnichannel strategy. Given the rise of ecommerce in the region, it is entirely possible that Luxasia wants to focus on that particular strategy, moving the 30 year old brand into a more digital focused platform.

Baier played a key role in transforming SingPost from a postal company to an ecommerce logistics firm, which sheds light on why Luxasia has chosen him to assume the role after a year long search.

In 2015, Luxasia invested in a few internet startups linked to ecommerce, including mobile beauty services, an online Korean beauty company and last mile logistics firms.

A version of this appeared in Tech in Asia on August 17. Read the full version here

SingPost ecommerce delivered positive sales growth in the last quarter by 30.9% to $248 million (S333.4 million), but saw a decrease in net profit by 23%.

The increase reflects expansion in cross border ecommerce activities, as well as the integration of new US subsidiaries TradeGlobal and Jagged Peak. Both of these companies run ecommerce fulfillment and logistics operations, acquired in November 2015 and March 2016, respectively. The company recently won Japanese fashion brand UNIQLO’s ecommerce business in Thailand.

Ecommerce related revenues more than doubled from $54.3 million to $122 million. They now make up 49.3 % of Group revenue, up from 28.7% last year. 

Ecommerce related revenues now make up 49.3% of the total Group revenue, up from 28.7% last year. 

Logistics revenue rose 11.9% to $116.7 million, with steady organic growth at Quantium Solutions and CouriersPlease, as well as the inclusion of a new subsidiary under Famous Holdings. Increased cross border ecommerce related activities led postal revenues to a 1.5% rise, indicating an increased demand of cross border services. 

Increased cross border ecommerce related activities led postal revenues to a 1.5% rise, indicating an increased demand of cross border services. 

Total expenses increased 33.6%, driven largely by growth in international mail traffic and ecommerce logistics volumes that reflect the change in the Group’s business mix.

Net profit attributable to equity holders declined 23.0% to S$35.9 million, due largely to one-off gains from the divestments of Novation Solutions and DataPost HK in the corresponding period last year.

From the SingPost Press Release:

Underlying net profit, which excludes one-off items, was down 11.2%, due to investments in business transformation. Rental income declined as the Singapore Post Centre (“SPC”) retail mall is being redeveloped, while depreciation charges were incurred for the Regional ecommerce Logistics Hub, which obtained a Temporary Occupation Permit in April 2016.

SingPost also continued to invest in ecommerce IT and operational capabilities. Mr Mervyn Lim, Covering Group Chief Executive Officer, said, “We are investing in our business transformation and that will take time to contribute materially to earnings. We are focused on executing our strategy to create value from our acquisitions and build an integrated global ecommerce logistics ecosystem. SingPost’s strategy to protect the postal core and grow its ecommerce logistics network remains on track.”

The good news will be welcomed by SingPost, following the company’s spell of negative headlines regarding internal investigation over board members, and the stepping down of Director Keith Tay in May.

Access the press release here

By Anutra Chatikavanij & Felicia Moursalien

 

A Singapore-based startup, Funding Society raised $7.5 million of Series A round, reported Tech Crunch. The company allows SMEs to access loans from individual or institutional lenders. The fund will be used to expand the operations in Malaysia, in addition to Singapore and Indonesia under the name ‘Modalku‘. Sequoia India led this investment round, along with several angel investors. 

The company claimed it has paid out $8.7 million across 96 loans to date and has 94% repayment rate. Fund Societies CEO, Kelvin Teo said the data shows the company’s reliability.

Funding Societies is primarily focused on working capital loans, to finance the day-to-day operations in a company. In Singapore, the average loan size is $67,000 ($90,000 SGD) while the number falls lower to $18,500 (SG$25,000) in Indonesia. It charges an origination fee to the borrower (3-4% in Singapore, 5-6% in Indonesia) and 1% monthly fee to the lender. It claims to have an approval rate of between 15-25% for loan applicants.

The fund will be used to expand its SME loans operations in Malaysia, in addition to Singapore and Indonesia under the name ‘Modalku‘. Sequoia India led this investment round, along with several angel investors. 

In addition to the expansion, the fund will also be used to comply with myriad of regulatory variations in the three countries where it currently operates. It prided itself on being compliant with regulations and ensuring the safety of investors money.

“Industry regulation has been announced in Singapore, but it will still take some investment to reach that level of compliance,” Teo added. Likewise, in Indonesia, he said the company is working with regulators to introduce a framework to regulate peer-based lending.

Outside of compliance and expansion — including expansion beyond capital city Jakarta in Indonesia — Funding Societies is planning to invest in its product to streamline its services for borrowers and lenders, add more services to make the investment options more tailored to the investor needs. The company target to reach breakeven in two-to-three-years.

A version of this appeared in Techcrunch on August 9.  Read the full article here

Practicing Muslims across the world strictly adhere to things like eating halal food, which is how the startup “Halal Dining Club” was born, reports Tech In Asia.

Halal Dining Club is taking on the challenge of providing Muslim consumers a listing of certified halal restaurants within an area. The app, launched last month, allows users to discover, book, and review foodie outlets and earn themselves loyalty points in the process.

In Southeast Asia, the landscape of Halal food startups is still relatively young, but the Indonesian government’s efforts in joining Malaysia in an ecommerce Halal portal may signify progress towards the sector.

The halal dining market is expected to grow to $2.6 trillion in the next six years. That’s a massive opportunity and a severely underserved market.

The app is currently live in Singapore and London. With 500 restaurants in Singapore, users can choose from a list of Chinese, Indian to Brazilian food. Each restaurant added to the startup’s database is personally audited by the team. This is done to ensure that they’re actually providing halal food and not simply making it up.

CEO admits that it may not be a scalable model, but the approach is right as it helps add an element of authenticity and trust for consumers.

There is also a crowdsourcing element in which users can recommend restaurants to the app. Many establishments are also approaching them in order to be listed.

The startup competes with Halal food veterans such as Zabihah and Singapore Halal Eating Guide, which indicates that the Halal startup industry in Singapore is becoming filled with key players. However, there are still many untapped opportunities in the market.

A version of this appeared in Tech In Asia on August 5. Read the full version here.

Love With Food, a US based delivery service for healthy snacks has announced its international expansion, includes Singapore reports Tech In Asia.

The startup launched in 2012 by Aihui Ong, a US based Singaporean who noticed a missing gap in the food business.

In the US, a consumer can discover food through grocery stores, supermarkets and so on. The problem with them is that there’s limited shelf space, and new products get rejected because of this, as shelf space is reserved for bigger brands. – Aihui Ong, Founder of Love With Food.

What is Love With Food?

The startup is a subscription-based service that sends you a box of all-natural, organic, and gluten-free snacks. Everything in the box comes from smaller food brands that want to get their product in front of customers.

The company sells consumer data to companies looking to benefit from insights (product feedback and preferences).

Monetizing its data contributes about 10% of Love With Food’s current revenue, as the company started charging for that service only last year. The rest comes in through subscriptions. Over time, the company hopes the data business will bring in around half of the revenue.

By owning valuable consumer data, Love With Food is able to protect itself from a competitive grocery delivery market.

The startup also has a social impact component; Love With Food is in the process of coordinating with a global food bank network, so it can provide meals to countries where the purchases come from.

So far, Love With Food has raised $4 million in external funding and has acquired four other startups like gluten-free meal service G-Free Foodie Box Club and subscription food provider Taste Guru. Its revenue last year was $4.5 million and this year it expects to double that to about $10 million.

The company will expand to 25 new countries simultaneously because it has seen enough demand from other markets to justify the move. It has also achieved a big enough scale in the US market to be able to negotiate better shipping rates.

A version of this appeared in Tech In Asia on August 2. Read the full version here.

Singapore Post (SingPost) has launched Singapore’s first island wide open parcel locker service called “Rent-a-POP”, reports Post & Parcel.

The service allows retailers and customers to rent a SingPost POPStation locker to deliver their parcels 24/7. SingPost is opening up the POPStation network to third parties.

The company also expects that the new service will be particularly appealing to marketplace sellers and blogshop owners, effectively empowering smaller businesses and merchants.

Users can rent from about 140 POPStations locations in Singapore, including commercial and neighborhood areas such as shopping complexes, community centers and clubs, post offices, and tertiary institutions.

Lim Ann Nee, Senior Vice President, SP Parcels, SingPost said, “Rent-a-POP continues to revolutionize last mile delivery for the growing ecommerce industry. SingPost is the first in Singapore to offer an island wide open parcel locker service.”

Smart lockers aims to give retailers and consumers parcel delivery flexibility that caters to today’s busy lifestyles.

The launch of POPStation for rent has encouraged the development of a sharing economy. Parcels can be delivered by retailers and consumers to a rented POPStation at their convenience, and recipients can collect their parcels easily near their homes or offices.

Prior to the launch of Rent-a-POP, SingPost carried out a one month trial with online marketplaces and blogshops. During the trial, it was found that 50% of these parcels were delivered outside of office hours, there was a 100% collection rate with almost 90% of the parcels being collected in the next day. This gives SingPost the confidence to launch smart lockers all across the nation.

The rates for the service are dependent on the size of the POPStation lockers (three sizes available) and the number of rental days.

A version of this appeared in Post & Parcel on July  27. Read the full version here