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Pro 1 Home Center – One Stop Service for building and construction materials

As a country’s economy grows, so does its need for a better infrastructure, and with it there also comes a greater demand for building materials. Pro 1 Home Center was brought into being to meet those infrastructural needs of Myanmar’s developing economy. The following is what U Myo Htwe, Managing Director of the Center, said in our interview with him.

Pro 1 Home Center was founded as Pro 1 Myanmar Company in 2013. It was two years ago that we started dealing in building materials. Pro 1 Myanmr Company, as it was then called, was a member of the Farmer Group of Companies. Our main import was elephant brand cement from SCG Company. I should say we were pretty familiar with construction business early on. We did market research. A typical market is the Sawbwagyigon construction materials market which is always so busy there’s hardly enough space for car parking. It’s become such a developed market. Studying the regional market, we found one-stop service is already over there. We made a feasibility study to find out it we can offer a similar service here in Myanmar, seeking advice from economists, particulary from our Partner, SCG. In Thailand there are quite a number of one stop service centers, like Global House. So we started our one stop service center with a spacious car parking lot for the convenience of customers.

Primary Aim

As you see, we have a large range of goods on display. That means less management cost for individual items. We have three sale channels: wholesale, retail and project sale. This immen-sity gives us more buying power over our suppliers, which also makes our cost a little less than our rivals’. Management cost is the same, no matter whether it is only one type of goods or a wide variety of items. This realization gives us the idea of buying and selling in huge quantities at a reasonable price. That is the aim of opening this one stop service center.

Business Concept

My aim of opening a shop of this much size in not to sell things at a high price, but only for customers to buy them conveniently at a fair price. In Myanmar culture most people associate big shops with being pricey. Ours is a big-sale business so we get strong marketing power and the benefit of less cost. I made a number of study trips overseas attending training courses I thought I should attend. We also have staff training and also let the employees attend seminars and shows. We send them abroad to study how things are there and know how what they had learnt there can be adapted to our culture. Some advertisers suggested that our Center should have glass partitians, air-con fittings and things like that. I don’t like that idea, such impressive things would only make our buyers think that our thing would be highly expensive. So I left it as it is now, an open-plan concept that serves to add a free and easy air to our Center for all, rich and poor.

Preparations for Showroom

I got the idea to open this showroom five years ago. I spent some time doing feasibility study especially surveying the local market. It was two years ago that my idea of having buildings suitable for showroom began to take form. Then I started bringing stocks in, first doing it wholesale. For more effective management we tried to learn what we should do from our partner company Global Wholesale. This way we’d had to make lots of preparations.

Difficulties

Difficulty or rather the main thing is about which types of goods we should keep in stock. Our business model prioritizes items in popular demand. Before deciding on any item we would put ourselves in the buyer’s place and take his angle of view: ‘Can I get the quality worth my money?’ as he would think to himself saying. We always make sure we have ready stocks. People ’ve got the habit of bargaining for less price, but that’s something difficult to do on our part, because we’re operating by software, and we explain these difficulties to them. Our employees are themselves not quite familiar with this kind of software applications, so we gave them training. These are difficulties in our operation.

Goods available and Suppliers

We have all parts of a house available, from roofing to flooring as well as home appliances such as refrigerator, air conditioner, water heater, irons, rice cooker, everything. As regards suppliers we have them from Europe and also from such regional countries as Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, China, etc. We choose them on the basis of their brand image, price and quality. We have to pay more for a better brand image. We make available all things that are reasonable in price and reliable in quality.

Target Customer

Our target customers are house owners medium and small project operators and similar big businesses. We keep as many and varied items as necessary for them–such as accessories for doors, for bathrooms, etc, including those things from a company that specializes in spa baths. This way, we believe, we can attract customers.

Customer Service

We provide delivery service to buyers of over 300,000 kyats worth of goods. For those over 500,000 kyats worth we have Pro 1 member card that entitles the buyers to member–card facilities. We also provide them with product information and advice. We also bring them into contact with our installation teams, if they wish so. We allow return within one week of purchase but not an exchange of those goods that are only found faulty while being installed in their homes. We allow them to see for themselves fragile things, like toilet bowls and porcelain slabs. We allow them to accept our delivered goods only after their careful checking at their own homes.

Marketing Strategy

We have a separate Project Marketing Team. They would visit project sites and provide necessary information. Engineers from factories often come to us to give their product knowledge training. We would invite those interested in these training sessions to come, telling them which brand or which company would come and when. This is our way of marketing.

Product knowledge Training for the Employees

Products differ as companies or factories differ in respect of technology, each with its own weak and strong points. Thats why we give all our employees a product knowledge training prior to purchasing them. Some house owners don’t have an adequate product knowledge. That gap can be filled by our trained staff to the satisfaction of our customers, and that ’ll earn us their complete trust in us.

Prospect of Building Materials Market

What a country in its development drive needs is primarily a better infrastructure. We’re now very much in need of it so we’re seeing the future with the construction industry making greater strides. Certainly a better future for this market.

For Employee’s Welfare

I’m MD of this company and my wife’s Executive Director in charge of operation. We provide a free bus service for our employees, and a free lunch as well. We give them regular training. Regarding their prospects, we create opportunities for further advancement up to the executive level.

Plan for the Future

On January 5, 2014 we held a Grand Opening Ceremony. We have a plan to open one more Center in Mandalay in the middle of this year. The third Center will be opened here in Yangon. The government hasn’t yet allowed foreign retail business here. We have a plan to work in partnership with them when they come in.

Source:Today Myanmar

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