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Mahakarya Warisan Nusantara | Mr Johannes Bima
Mr Johannes Bima

In the midst of the abundance of new brands, innovative products and creative ideas in Indonesia, entrepreneurs may lack the necessary scale or support, much less the funds. Mahakarya Warisan Nusantara serves to curate those brands.

Mr Johannes Bima, President Director

PT Mahakarya Warisan Nusantara is a holding company operating several specialty store brands for high-end fashion and home furnishing products. What more can you tell us about your company and its main strategies going forward?

Mahakarya Warisan Nusantara differentiates itself through its commitment to grooming local businesses. In developing the company, we actively seek to enlist prospective local brands, particularly those which already possess brand value. We understand that many entrepreneurs and artisans may not necessarily have access to the broader industry or have fully developed their business acumen. In the midst of the abundance of new brands, innovative products and creative ideas in Indonesia, these entrepreneurs may lack the necessary scale or support, much less the funds. Mahakarya Warisan Nusantara serves to curate those brands, albeit being very selective in choosing which ones, as at the end of the day, we seek sustainable development and profit. It is worth emphasising that we are not a company that merely buys and sells. Rather, our approach has been to build these fledgling local brands.

The philosophy behind our business is based on three outlooks. The first is that we see the need to promote value-added creation in Indonesia. The second is that Indonesia should not only position itself as a country of consumers but should also emphasise its potential as a manufacturing base. The third point is that we have observed a sense of exhaustion among high-end consumers in having to choose products from the same international brands at very high prices. At present, Mahakarya Warisan Nusantara is curating three main brands and two sub-brands, having first started with the Iwan Tirta Private Collection batik brand. We seek to develop them organically, meaning that we are not in the position to engineer them financially in order to reach some kind of exponential growth. It must be scalable organic growth. Conclusively, Mahakarya Warisan Nusantara is a unique platform as we are serving a highly niche market in which we develop local brands from the ground up. We can also take pride in having the capacity to produce our own goods with assets such as 13,000 proprietary batik motif designs in our Iwan Tirta Private Collection library.

As a company focusing on the luxury segment of Indonesia’s retail sector, what is your outlook for your particular industry in the short and medium-term?

We have learned of some data pointing out Indonesia’s expanding number of high-net-worth and ultra-high-net-worth individuals and we believe such is the case. A 2014 report even expects a 130% increase for this segment by 2024. This, of course, would broaden the market we can take advantage of. In this respect, what is important right now is to create an enticing brand that is supported by easily-accessible, high-quality products and services. We have also found this segment to be resilient despite the country having gone through economic crises in the 1980s, 1998, 2008 and more recently, 2010.

Particularly for batik, appreciation for the traditional fabric is not unique to Indonesia as it is also shared by several other cultures. In addition to Malaysia, Singapore and other countries in the region, batik is also well-recognised in South Africa though with different styles. Hence, it is entirely possible for us to make good products that are relevant for that market.

Regional integration in Southeast Asia has begun to be implemented with the inauguration of the ASEAN Economic Community on 31st December 2015. What is your opinion on this from the perspective of your company’s future expansion?

Internationalisation is by all means one of our company’s priorities. However, Mahakarya Warisan Nusantara is not in a hurry to expand internationally as there is still much homework to do. To open a store in places such as Singapore is actually easy to do, but creating a sustainable business and cracking open the designated market requires a different strategy. For example, with regards to product quality, we have to make sure that a brand’s DNA matches the needs and wants of the target customers. That said, we see consumers in Indonesia’s upper market segment as prospective ambassadors for our products. We, of course, cannot do a campaign encouraging that role, but we can have the products speak for themselves. As an investor, our company certainly wants to do things fast, but not too fast. The best analogy for this is that a freight train must not go faster than the track being built; otherwise there will be a disaster. We are still in the works of building that track.

Foreign companies have been actively seeking local partners in Indonesia in the last decade. How is Mahakarya Warisan Nusantara positioned towards working with international counterparts?

We are opening ourselves to prospective partnerships. In the last two years, we had received enquiries from abroad for our brands, such as from Australia and the UAE for our Arbor & Troy home furnishing products, but we were not in the position to say yes at the time. The company is more prepared now and has started to respond to those enquiries. We have identified several countries where each of our brands suit the market. For the Iwan Tirta Private Collection, we cannot expect a big volume and will need to find a local partner in countries such as the US. On the other hand, batik is quite well-known in France with several local brands already selling real batik products.

The partnership itself may range from finding a local distributor, cooperating with a well-established local brand, to licensing. With regards to the latter, we have carried out quite a few successful ones domestically, such as providing our Iwan Tirta designs to be featured on card products from BCA and Permata Bank. We have also worked with several parties who are now cooperating with batik producers in Central Java.

What is your final message that you would like to share with our readers?

I encourage our international partners to invest their time finding good Indonesian products and brands. Additionally, responsible practises in sourcing raw materials must also be adopted as a standard because environmental sustainability is what matters eventually. The last message would be; give a chance to the lesser-known brands, because you may surprise yourself and fall in love with them.

Global Business Guide Indonesia - 2016

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