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Aeon Co leading through the pandemic and pushing sustainability

The company was recognised with the CEO of the Year and the Sustainability Initiative of the Year - Malaysia trophies at the Retail Asia Awards 2022.

Recovering from the effects brought by the COVID-19 pandemic, not just to the market but to society in general, is a daunting and lengthy task that involves proper planning and masterful leadership to see things through. Aeon Co understood what it takes to come out on top of the situation, and in doing so, managed to win the CEO of the Year and the Sustainability Initiative of the Year - Malaysia awards at the Retail Asia Awards 2022. 

The awards programme recognises major breakthroughs, innovations, and key players in the retail industry of Asia, and Shafie Shamsuddin, the managing director and chief executive officer of Aeon Co (M) BHD since January 2020, set him and his company apart from their competition through initiatives that sought to pull the company through the effects of the pandemic whilst also fulfilling their corporate social responsibility. 

The quantum leap of adapting to survive 

Fondly known as ‘SS’ amongst the staff, Shamsuddin holds a Bachelor of Business Administration from Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, starting his career as a management trainee in Carrefour Singapore back in 1996. He became the first Asian CEO of Carrefour in the Company’s history at the age of 35 years old, leading the company in Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia for 16 years and holding the position of Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer from 2005 to 2011. 

In Aeon, his leadership shone during the outbreak of COVID-19 in early 2020, with various challenges serving as catalysts for Aeon’s digital journey acceleration, offering a new retail business model and establishing itself as a leading household name in Malaysia. 

By drawing on Aeon’s organisational culture, Aeon People, and inherent business strengths from the business approaches of Agile, Genba, and Entrepreneurial, the company weathered the storm to emerge more resilient, flexible, and ready for the future, embracing and adapting the new normal and continuing to achieve steady progress in the realisation of the transformation journey. 

Through the wealth of experience that Shamsuddin holds, he steered Aeon to become more customer, technologically driven, and market-focused, as Aeon’s business operations and organisational culture became more centred on delivering sustainability. 

One of the many sustainability initiatives undertaken was Berkat Ramadan Campaign organised in collaboration with the Malaysian Aeon Foundation and raised RM1.4m. The fund was used to purchase 300 motorcycles to provide employment as Aeon Riders to those who became unemployed due to COVID-19.

All the initiatives and strategies implemented under SS have brought positive results to Aeon, as Aeon has successfully achieved more than double its Profit After Tax (PAT) to RM85.3m from just RM41.4m from 2020 3to 2021. 

Aeon Sayap Bagimu 

Being committed to driving sustainable growth in all aspects, Aeon believes that a sustainable business is one that also protects the environment, nurtures its employees, and uplifts its communities and ecosystems, not just focusing on profits. 

In line with Aeon Basic Principles that focus on three key thrusts of peace, people, and community, Aeon is dedicated to meeting the obligations of being a good corporate citizen, consciously enhancing their surroundings for the benefit of communities by contributing to the prosperity of the nation through employment and job creation, upskilling and reskilling of citizens, protecting the environment, and collaborating with others to support communities. 

Aeon Sayap Bagimu was launched as a sustainability initiative for the nation in conjunction with Aeon celebrating its 37th anniversary, aspiring to drive the spirit of succeeding together in the new normal. The initiative provided opportunities, encouragement, and support to stakeholders, especially those in need. 

Consisting of two main thrusts in development and collaboration, Aeon Sayap Bagimu encompassed various social and sustainable development programmes which included education, community, MSME, and creative communications. 

In an effort to help bridge the education gap for students affected by the pandemic, Aeon contributed 2,000 units of Samsung Galaxy Tab T295 worth RM1m, with the Malaysian Aeon Foundation distributing the tablets to Form 5 students from eligible B40 families across seven states. All items were handed over through the respective state education departments involving 292 schools. 

An agile and entrepreneurial business approach is key to ensuring sustainable financial performance and unlocking greater value creation opportunities for continued prosperity. Remaining deeply committed to reducing environmental impact by implementing climate change action that will accelerate the nation’s transition to a low-carbon economy is also one of Aeon’s sustainability objectives.

The 17th Retail Asia Awards is presented by Retail Asia. To view the full list of winners, click here. If you want to join the 2023 awards programme and be acclaimed for your company's outstanding retail initiatives, please contact Jane Patiag at [email protected].

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