Initiative to help sector tackle key challenges: Luxasia CEO

Mr Wolfgang Baier hopes all parties will work together to attract and retain top talent in the sector.
Mr Wolfgang Baier hopes all parties will work together to attract and retain top talent in the sector.ST FILE PHOTO

Mention "wholesale trade" and the man in the street might think of fruits and vegetables at Pasir Panjang Wholesale Centre.

But the sector is far broader than that and big players here include fashion and cosmetics giant Luxasia, which distributes well-known brands such as Hermes.

The sector includes brand owners, distributors and the trading arms of manufacturers and retailers who deal in all manner of goods - from commodities and chemicals to machinery and household items.

Luxasia chief executive Wolfgang Baier called the sector's newly launched industry transformation map (ITM) a "very exciting initiative", saying: "As trade digitalises, it is important to create a joint industry ecosystem. We hope to see all parties working even more closely together to find ways to attract and retain top talent in the sector."

The former Singapore Post boss added: "The ITM is not a prescribed way forward but helps the industry players to address the key challenges of the future and ask the right questions."

One Luxasia employee who has benefited from an investment in skills - a key thrust of the ITM - is 33-year-old senior supply chain analyst Chew Kok Soon, who tackles operational issues such as budgeting.

"Basically, if you shop, buy or sell, wholesale trade will always be relevant," he said. "The industry has a lot of room to grow and the range of products is very wide."

He joined Luxasia last November, after being laid off from a previous role in finance. "Ultimately, I'm still looking at data and numbers, but I have to learn how things work differently from that of a financial institution."

Mr Chew was matched under a programme for mid-career international trading executives, rolled out last year in partnership with Singapore Management University (SMU) and the International Chamber of Commerce Academy.

The scheme has placed 65 people, with SMU aiming to put 100 to work a year. A fresh cohort of 44 was inducted yesterday.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 07, 2017, with the headline 'Initiative to help sector tackle key challenges: Luxasia CEO'. Print Edition | Subscribe