Walton has announced the opening of a subsidiary in the United States as Bangladesh's first company in the electronics sector. It has also announced the establishment of business hubs in several important regions of the world.
Golam Murshed, managing director of Walton, speaks to The Business Standard about the global journey of the local brand.
What was the drive behind the Walton Board of Directors' decision to open a company in the United States?
No one can become a global company from within the domestic boundaries. If a company wants growth nationally, it has to get out of the district level and spread operations all over the country. It must come to Dhaka and take initiatives centrally to expand the business. A company has to come to Dhaka to grow by competing with everyone. We have been doing that since 2008. Now is the time to turn into a global company.
The vacancy in the domestic market will disappear in the next two-three years. In the meantime, we are starting the process of setting up offices in different countries for global expansion. Once the offices are established, we will be able to do the job smoothly. Our vision of becoming a global company by 2030 will be realised.
We want to be among the top five brands in the world in 2030.
If you want to be among the top five global brands, you will have to compete with big companies like Samsung, Sony, General, LG and Hitachi. Do you have that preparation?
In order to be a global brand, we need to review the position of the top companies on this list. We have to do business by competing with them. We have to look at them with sincerity and ability. And that is why we want to enter their home markets. We have been preparing for several years. Now we are going to start activities by having offices in their countries.
When we look at those organisations, we see that they are all operating in different countries of the world and are manufacturing in many countries. They have factories and offices in almost all countries. And that is why we have taken the initiative to open companies and business hubs in different countries.
What opportunities do you foresee in the US market?
Walton is already selling products in America through Amazon. Several products including mobile sets are being exported to the US market. We signed an agreement with Amazon two years ago. Following the agreement, the demand for our products in the US has made us interested in expanding the market.
To be clear about opening companies and branches outside the country, one has to do research on the taste of a country's people, customer criteria, customer feedback and for fixing their demand. This requires an office.
After setting up an office, we will have a marketing team, a business information team, and an R&D team there. These teams will give us information by understanding the taste of the people there. We will develop products here based on that information. Then, we can hit the market within two years.
South Korean companies are leading the world in the electronics sector. What will Walton do after opening a branch there?
We are opening a branch in South Korea, which will be basically an R&D. There is no denying that South Korea is the market leader in the white gold or electronics market. So, we want to take an R&D experience from Korea. We are initially setting up a team of 10-12 people there. A Korean national will be the head of our team, who has worked with Samsung for 34 years. He was also the CTO of Samsung. Hopefully, we will get some new experience from Korea.
What about opening a branch in India?
We have also taken an initiative to open an office in India although we are still exporting a significant amount of goods to the country. But if we want to capture the market of Seven Sisters, one office will not be enough. Three to four offices will be needed in future for that purpose. We are working to that end. India will be a big market for us.
We have also learnt that you are going to open a branch in the UAE?
Another target for us on the way to go global is the United Arab Emirates. It will help us capture the African market apart from the entire Middle East. From there, we will be able to reach out to a large number of people. As a result, our goal is to expand the market by setting up hubs in important places.
When did Walton come up with this idea of going global and when could this plan be executed?
We have been thinking about becoming a global company for the last three years. However, we have faced some delays due to the coronavirus. We had plans to go to different countries but could not do so properly. After resolving everything, we are now starting the final stage of activities. In the next two years, we will be able to market our products through our own company in America.
What is the current export situation of Walton?
Exports declined in the last financial year because of the pandemic. This year, we are trying our best. We hope our exports will stand at $20 million at the end of the year. And we aim to cross the $50 million mark in export earnings in the forthcoming financial year.