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With over 100 points of sales around the world, Carlo Rino is fast becoming the brand of choice for smart, savvy women. Celebrating 38 years in the market, it has built a loyal following in the market for its leather goods, shoes, sunglasses, timepieces, scarves and other accessories.
The Carlo Rino name has also been a driving force behind the growth of its parent company, CRG Incorporated Berhad, into an important fashion conglomerate and powerful player in the industry.
“We create customer excitement,” Managing Director Dato’ Sri Chiang Fong Yee (William) tells The CEO Magazine. Co-branding partnerships, in particular, are of key importance to showcasing the brand – William highlights a recent collaboration with Warner Brothers to produce a series of exciting limited-edition collections as an example.
“Not long ago, we launched the Carlo Rino Looney Tunes limited-edition series and we are excited by the potential this partnership promises and the opportunity to implant elements of the films’ characters to our bags, shoes and much more,” he says.
William says that the company has put a huge amount of effort into promoting and advertising the Carlo Rino brand, “to keep it at the forefront of the younger generations’ minds”. “We recognise the needs of the markets,” he explains. “And we work to satisfy them, creating fashion merchandise that suits their needs, especially our core target group, cosmopolitan women,” he says.
Alongside its high-end shops and boutiques, Carlo Rino launched an online platform in 2015 to showcase its products and extend its sales channel. Following that, the fashion brand began to sell its goods on third-party ecommerce platforms including major online marketplaces. Such partnerships served it well during COVID-19 when more people shopped online and stayed indoors due to social distancing restrictions.
“We recognise the needs of the markets. And we work to satisfy them, creating fashion merchandise that suits their needs, especially our core target group, cosmopolitan women.”
Ecommerce and technology have played a big part in Williams’s strategy to update and expand the Carlo Rino brand. “Online shopping is a real trend and we believe that the ability to harness data is a tremendous asset,” he says. “We are also ensuring that we continue to focus on enhancing the customer experience online.”
While he continues to look at new partnerships and platforms, William also wants to expand the brand’s presence across South-East Asia. But rather than bricks-and-mortar stores (it currently has around 40 boutiques and outlets and more than 80 department store counters across the world), he is turning to digital platforms to penetrate these markets.
As with all successful companies, CRG has built a strong network of retailers, suppliers and partners to support its growth. In particular, it has formed long-term and stable partnerships with its suppliers, which were put to the test during the pandemic when supply chains were disrupted.
“We develop trust by understanding the situation, listening and solving the problem,” William says of his supplier relationships.
“I am looking forward to unlocking the unlimited fashion possibilities for Carlo Rino.”
While affecting the manufacture and distribution of products, the pandemic also made it hard for business travel, and William has missed the opportunity to physically sit down with his suppliers. “Unfortunately, I couldn’t just fly over and meet them,” he says, adding that face-to-face meetings are still his preferred way of doing business. “Maybe I’m a bit old school, but they give a much more personal touch,” he says. New ways to digitally connect during this time had to be forged instead to ensure these relationships remained strong.
Just as building trust with suppliers has been a cornerstone of his strategy, so too has been his passion for the brand. “Passion is key for me, as is staying focused and achieving set goals,” he says. “I am looking forward to unlocking the unlimited fashion possibilities for Carlo Rino.”
Going forward, can we expect more fun tie-ups like the Looney Tunes one? “I can foresee a lot of potential in our future – there are a lot of options, from sports brands to cars,” he says. “Although we just started with Warner Brothers, so it’s probably too early for me to think about the next one yet!” But keeping the brand young, fun and fresh is a definite direction for Dato’ Sri William Chiang.