The Nation


Unilever's Aviance sets up in Malaysia

After fine-tuning its business in Thailand for more than a decade, Unilever's direct-sales unit Aviance is ready to open its first overseas venture in Malaysia next week before expanding throughout the region.

"Our new office will be ready for its soft opening on August 19 and the company expects to welcome 200,000 members within a year," managing director Suchada Threeravachirakul said yesterday. Last month, Unilever Malaysia Aviance was registered with that country's Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs as a direct-sales business. The company used Bt80 million to fit out its office in the business district of Kuala Lumpur. Malaysia was picked because it shows high potential for the business. Consumers there have firmly adopted the direct-sales business, which has grown almost 10 per cent annually to $1.1 billion, she said. About 4 million people there |are involved in the direct-sales industry. The country's population and culture are diversified with Malay, Chinese and Indian people who speak many languages. This will give the company an advantage to spread its business to other countries in the future. The company is considering overhauling its business in India after it faced a decline due to high competition there. "Though Aviance has been running in India for 10 years, most of the products are in the standard range, so we would like to introduce premium products as in Thailand and Malaysia as well as revamp its brand image," she said. The company has spent about Bt100 million on software development. Aviance Cyber Office software equips its sales teams to provide better service and check their points and the movement of down-line members. Now the firm will introduce personal online shopping to its members. It already offers a mobile application for iPads. A variety of premium products will be available including skincare products and food supplements. Food supplements are expected to increase to 45 per cent of |sales from just 25 per cent now, from both the home and overseas markets. In Thailand, where the company has 4.5 million Aviance members, 30 per cent of them active, the company expects double-digit growth in revenue this year, higher than the industry's 10 per cent, Suchada said.

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