Scanteak – Furnishing for the future

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    • Jamie Lim, CEO of Scanteak SingaporeJamie Lim, CEO of Scanteak Singapore
    • Façade of a Scanteak showroomFaçade of a Scanteak showroom
    19 October 2021

    “Strong and enduring – these are the qualities of teak.”

    Like the furniture it manufactures, Scanteak also aspires to endure as a business. The company started in the 70s as a family-run furniture distribution business called Hawaii Furnishing. A decade later, Scanteak was founded, and the designer furniture brand now has a worldwide presence in over 100 showrooms.

    Focused on sustainable practices, quality materials and fine craftsmanship, Scanteak makes furniture that appeals to the modern, eco-conscious consumer. The clean lines of Scandinavian design are paired with teak that is sustainably sourced and legally harvested from certified plantations. The company believes in investing for the long-term – having a tree planted for every one that is cut down.

    However, Scanteak’s own business resilience was tested when the COVID-19 pandemic struck. Like many other retailers, sales were impacted. As Scanteak’s banking partner since 1991, UOB was ready to help, working with the business’ second-generation leaders to find ways to maximise the value of their assets to support revenue. When Scanteak pivoted its sales online, UOB digitalised its payment processes, while the Bank’s relief programme helped keep staff on payroll.

    The pandemic has imparted valuable lessons on how to be stronger and to endure through challenging times. Watch this video to find out how Scanteak’s second-generation plans to bring the business forward.

     

     

    Jamie Lim (Chief Executive Officer, Scanteak Singapore):
    Strong and enduring. These are the qualities of teak. They are also the qualities of the Scanteak brand.

    My parents started a furniture distribution business in the 70s.

    In the late 80s, we founded Scanteak and transformed into designing and manufacturing our own line of teak furniture.

    Scanteak incorporates the clean lines of Scandinavian furniture with the hardiness of teak. We expanded to Taiwan in 1993 and by 2010, we had 100 showrooms across the world.

    Today, the Scanteak Group and its subsidiaries have over 180 stores regionally.

    Eric Tham (Managing Director and Head, Group Commercial Banking, UOB):
    UOB has been banking Scanteak for more than 30 years.

    In the early days, we advised the founders on building strong fundamentals. This would anchor the business for growth.

    Working with the second generation, the focus is more on responding to their needs for expansion.

    This means connecting Scanteak to financial solutions across our regional network.

    Jamie Lim:
    We don’t see UOB as just a “lender”.

    During the crisis brought about by COVID-19, the bank helped us emerge stronger through valuable advice.

    They showed us how to maximise the value of our assets to support revenue. Their relief programme also kept our staff on payroll.

    This gave us peace of mind, allowing us to pivot our business model during the pandemic.

    Eric Tham:
    When the pandemic first hit, UOB was the first bank to set up a relief programme to support SMEs.

    We worked with Scanteak to understand their requirements and customised the programme to meet their specific needs.

    With the working capital we provided, Scanteak reacted nimbly by pivoting their sales online.

    We then helped them through the digital payment process to seize e-commerce opportunities and open up alternate ways to interact with their customers.

    Jamie Lim:
    The pandemic experience made us think differently. We took the opportunity to open pop-up stores in the malls. This translated into revenue and valuable consumer insights.

    Customers could order furniture online through a range of e-commerce portals, something which would not have been the norm in the past.

    Eric Tham:
    The pandemic reinforces our approach as bankers. A banker’s role is not just in providing loans.

    We must be able to walk the journey with our customers and provide them with holistic advice and solutions so that they may enjoy sustained growth.

    Jamie Lim:
    We look forward to growing our business with a new generation of customers and having a supportive financial partner gives us added confidence with our ambition.

    About this series

    Building Asia is a collection of business stories on CNA that examines the financial forces driving Asia's position as an economic powerhouse.

    Scanteak – Furnishing for the future is the 16th episode in the Building Asia with UOB series and was first aired on 18 October 2021. It looks at how UOB has helped Scanteak with the financing, advice and progressive solutions it needs to achieve sustainable growth.

     

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