Earlier in March, Malaysia was the largest known virus vector in Southeast Asia. Today, the country has weathered the COVID-19 pandemic well. To date, 46.8 million people around the world have been infected with COVID-19. Of which, Malaysia only accounts for about 33,000 cases, and close to 70% of these cases have recovered. CMCO
As with other countries, the pandemic has upended the lives of families, impacted economies and left many struggling to adapt to a “new normal”. Within Malaysia’s retail scene, retail industry sales have plummeted by 11.4% in the first quarter of 2020. But with the bulk of its COVID-19 cases under control, Malaysia’s economy, which slumped badly in the second quarter of 2020, could be well on its way to recovery, says OCBC economist Wellian Wiranto.
The nation’s stringent regulations and restrictions, such as mandatory mask wearing and Movement Control Order (MCO), which were enacted swiftly, is also to be lauded for. The nation’s latest COVID-19 countermeasure, Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO), was enforced in Kuala Lumpur, Selangor, and Putrajaya in mid-October, following the spike in cases within the region. It was stipulated to end in late-October, but underwent two extensions and will end on Dec 6.
For businesses, the CMCO is untimely and an inevitable hindrance. Even so, many companies have gleaned valuable lessons from the nation’s first MCO and have adapted accordingly. With outlets in Singapore, Brunei, Japan, China, Thailand and more, Singaporean shoewear label, PAZZION, continues to command an indelible presence in the Southeast Asia market. Its foray in the Malaysian market first began in 2016 and last year, it established a second outlet in West Malaysia.
At a time of COVID-19, the shoewear label continue to proffer stylish, affordable and quality shoewear to the masses. In an exclusive interview with hoolah, director of PAZZION Malaysia, Agnes Aw, shares how the brand is manoeuvring during such tough times as well as the lessons gleaned from the COVID-19 pandemic and CMCO.
Do you think the current pandemic has changed the way people shop today? How is PAZZION adapting to this new normal?
Agnes Aw: Yes, I think so. PAZZION has been and always will be working creatively to expand our E-Commerce business to cater to different audience demographics.
What are the defining traits of PAZZION?
Aw: We pride ourselves in our range of unique designs and styles. By using only high quality calf leather and lambskin, coupled with exceptional craftsmanship, to create fashionable designs, PAZZION ensures affordable and effortlessly stylish shoes for all occasions, perfect for the modern women.
How has the 2nd CMCO affected business? And were there lessons learnt during the first MCO that enabled PAZZION to better handle the recent CMCO?
Aw: We definitely saw several tangible impacts to our business during the 2nd CMCO. Compared to the 1st MCO, we have become better at organising our staff arrangement and put more focus towards our online platforms.
Despite the 2nd CMCO, Malaysia has managed to largely keep COVID-19 cases in check throughout the year. What does this say about the resilience of Malaysians and Malaysian business?
Aw: During the initial stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, we saw Malaysians working hard together to help flatten the curve by adhering to the state regulations. Such is the beauty of Malaysia. We may have people of different races, religions and cultures, but we can always live in a united and peaceful environment. And I am proud to be Malaysian.
For businesses, I’d like to say we are adapting well. We can see the swift digital transitions undertaken by many businesses during the past few months, and the advantage of doing so is clearly reflected now when we are in the 2nd CMCO.
What are PAZZION’s aspirations for the future?
Aw: We would like to continue expanding our business, be inspired to create more well-crafted shoes for our customers, and develop the brand to be even more recognized by Malaysians.
Interview has been edited for clarity.