Even after 46 years, the House of Teak (Singapore) Pte. Ltd., which showcases the Scanteak branded furniture, continues to uphold its founder Lim Pok Chin’s vision of creating warm and inviting spaces.
“That remains our purpose up till today,” says Jamie Lim Jie Min, chief executive officer, Scanteak Singapore and regional marketing director, Scanteak Group. “Bare spaces, he thought, could be transformed into warm, inviting and restful environments. We believe that it is only appropriate for a person to return home to such an environment after a hard day’s work.
“Scanteak offers solutions (to achieve these). Our business is established on this principle, and it has since been our vision from the time we existed, although with strategic variations through the years to correspond with consumer demands and needs.”
Dovetailing with these endeavors is the image that the company has worked hard to build up, which is one of “home,” a welcome and inviting atmosphere, Lim explains: “Here at Scanteak, we believe in the importance of bringing families together. To us, a family is simply, a community of people with whom you can feel safe with. It can mean a nuclear family, a significant other, tight-knit friendships, or simply your fur kid, who has come to become more than just a pet.
“At Scanteak, our furniture designs are inspired by how you can better experience your family at home. They center, not just around the “me” of self-expression, but we also consider the “we” of a home. We hope our designs will facilitate conversation, give reason to celebrate, or simply, help people create a nurturing space where they can be themselves.”
Scanteak (first known as Hawaii Interior Decoration), which began as a mere 400 sq.ft. space in the quiet Joo Chiat neighbourhood of Singapore, has certainly come a long way. From two showrooms, there are now 150 stores across the world, including 12 showrooms in the Lion City, 127 showrooms in Taiwan and 11 showrooms in Japan, as well as offices in Singapore, Taiwan and Japan. Lim orchestrates the company’s regional branding initiatives and runs the Singapore operations.
Scanteak’s evolution is studded with memorable milestones and an upward trajectory that seems to have had no pause. One of its early accolades, the Singapore Small Medium Enterprise 500 Award in 2001, was but the start of a parade of coveted titles, including a windfall in 2015 for its Prologue Collection that reaped the Singapore Good Design Award, Good Design Award in Japan and the President’s Design Award. In 2019, it won again a Singapore Good Design Award for its Nest Collection. It also received the Primaduta Award – one of three Singapore companies to bag the prize – for contributing to raising national exports in Indonesia and holds a BE Certification – the Singapore Quality Class (SQC) trust mark, the first furniture manufacturer and retailer to achieve the benchmark.
Such recognition, especially the SQC, has made it easier to gain new business and a better foothold in foreign markets, according to Lim, particularly in Japan, where Scanteak intends to open three more outlets. It assures customers that Scanteak is a trustworthy brand and provides leverage for the company. In Singapore, it works closely with major retail names such as Isetan, Ngee Ann City and CapitalandMalls.
The company has also adapted to the digital age and maintains an online shopping platform through www.scanteak.com.sg where its products are available and can be ordered.
As it evolved, Scanteak never deviated from offering what it was best known for – teak furniture. Two new brands were also added to the portfolio: Scankomfort and Scanliving. Scankomfort aims to provide a good night’s sleep through affordable premium German mattresses. Scanliving seeks to create Scandinavian-inspired furniture made of full quality leather that is long lasting and reasonably priced.
With such distinct brands nestled under one roof, the company has been exerting efforts to leave the impression that it is a boutique retail furniture chain that is easily accessible in locations where it has put down stakes.
Who has been attracted to Scanteak’s showrooms? According to Lim, who’s in charge of Singapore operations, the demographics show the age bracket between 30 and 45 years old, with an average household income of above S$10,000, usually frequent their stores. She says these patrons share the company’s aesthetic of “beautifully designed and lasting furniture.”
She adds: “Our design and craft are inspired by Scandinavian ideology, where simplicity and functionality take precedence since we want our customers to feel at home. We hope to provide furnishing home solutions suitable to the hectic pace of contemporary living. We also believe the colour and grains of teak, which exude natural beauty, coupled with simple and uncluttered designs, are a perfect mix for today’s homes.”
“Our designs are also inspired by the greater home we call Earth. We try to to maximise the usage of every single wooden log, so that nothing is wasted and thrown away. All our teak wood is sourced from suppliers, who comply with the SVLK (Indonesia’s timber legality assurance system), ensuring that our wood is sustainable and responsibly harvested. To protect the health of your family, since many of our customers have families, our products go through rigorous formaldehyde testing in Japan to ensure our furniture adheres to CARB (California Air Resources Board) regulations. We always create our furniture with the family in mind.
For example, cushion covers are guaranteed machine washable for convenience’s sake, minimising the problem of stains and spills on sofas. Lim reports that genuine teakwood is always utilized, knowing how much their clientele prefer genuine timber products over chipboard.
To keep the market eager to return, Scanteak launches seasonal promotions which appeal to a wide variety of budgets. For those who can afford a bit more, the Scanteak Select and Designer Range should fulfill their desires. But no matter the price, quality is never sacrificed, Lim stresses. And aware that its relationship with the customer does not stop at purchasing, Scanteak provides delivery and after sales services. A customer hotline and an online chat function, both on its website and Facebook page, ensure that shoppers’ concerns are quickly addressed.
With advancements in technology so prevalent, Scanteak has invested in digital operations, trying especially to reach out to millennial buyers. Lim explains: “We understand that the dynamics of the market have evolved in recent years, from traditional marketing to social media marketing. In the past, we were more focused on traditional marketing – newspaper advertisements and brochures. However, we realised that marketing through Facebook and Google could actually reach more consumers at a lower cost.
“It allows us to effectively communicate with them in real time. People are buying and researching differently through the different channels. The customer decision making process has also changed as they are more price and design conscious. Consumers are currently looking for multi-functional furniture that are space saving as houses are getting smaller.
“However, one thing that hasn’t changed is that people still care about their families, and shop with their families in mind. Furniture has to be family friendly and appealing. While we are in the midst of innovating, we need to stay grounded and remember to create furniture that is all about the comfort and quality, and at a price point that is affordable to the customers.”
With that kind of thoughtful philosophy, Scanteak is definitely ensuring its existence well into the next generation of customers.