Suntop Display System
Leading Chinese shop fitting company Suntop, enters India with a plan to provide end to end solution from retail concepts and designs to fit-out. The company's based on a diverse portfolio of international brands is a testimony to its capability in offerings innovative retail fixtures. The founder CEO Li Hong Ze, Lee shares his vision for the Indian market.
In 1999, Suntop was setup to provide s olutions i n advertising, exhibition and POP stands. While developing his exhibition business, Mr Lee, noted that many of his customers also ventured into retailing and required retail concept design, including fixtures. He then envisioned a bigger and longer term global opportunity in retail fixtures. Here, unlike the case of exhibitions, the design, quality, engineering, logistic and service needs were different.
In 2000, Suntop commenced design orders from local Chinese clients and a year later in 2001, in order to meet the quality control and project deadlines, the organization started its own manufacturing. Today at Xiamen in China, wood fabrication, metal manufacturing and warehousing comprises 400,000 sq feet with over 400 staff, catering to 36 countries.
To live up to its vision of being a global organization, Suntop entered India in 2009. “India is our neighbour and has a huge population which suits our business. Also, India and China are developing countries, growing at a very fast pace, which brings in similarities between the two countries in terms of demand and design of the product”, states Mr Lee. For the international market, Suntop provides customized modular store fixture systems. Most international clients import their metal hardware, localize the wooden parts and assemble them to form the required fixture
system. The company engages over 30 creative professionals to continuously churn innovation.
Suntop specializes in offering highly customized retail fixtures as well as catalogued off-theshelf options through modular components. Mr Lee says, “Generally premium brands want custom made items that bring distinction to their store ambience. Also brands with multiple outlets tend to select customized fixtures as they have enough volume base to absorb the cost associated with customization. Smaller volume customers stay with modular systems.”
Since 2010, Suntop has added concept design, and renovation services to its existing retail fixtures offerings. These services have been accepted by its customers with much appreciation and have helped the company to develop its domestic business even further.
Mr Lee believes, “In today’s competitive environment, companies have to seek differential advantage like innovative concept design and continuous R&D. These developments can only be fulfilled through – creative/design team.” In the short span of 10 years in China, the experience gained is still far short of what the markets desire. But for Suntop, it is the overseas market exposure that helped its design team to differentiate its work from the Chinese market. Learning came not only from the store design and quality control but also in retail strategy and marketing. Developing people has always been an integral part of Suntop’s growth direction. In the approach to retaining people, there is a common vision and mission for Suntop. Through internationalization of the company’s business, there is much room for growth and people development where the employees find both challenges and fulfilment in their career. Earlier, the company had 120 employees to service all the customers. Through the expansion of the company’s business, the team has been re-organized to focus on key accounts with small teams. This has given each team their responsibilities and accountability to better manage their customers’ needs and services.
From 2012 onwards there has been a conscious attempt to focus on Indian retail. Mr Lee believes that in the coming years Indian retail would witness what China is experiencing today; an influx of foreign brands and organizations. This trend will push the local Indian retailers to seek highly innovative and quality products to maintain their competitive edge. Tier 2 and tier 3 cities would gain focus and would be responsible to catalyze greater growth opportunities for businesses.
In the next 5 years Suntop’s vision is to become the preferred choice of international brands by investing effort and resources in R&D and local supply and service capabilities
Suntop's showroom in the factory showcases various fixture systems for the retail environments
Since 2010, Suntop has added concept design, and renovation services to its existing retail fixtures
Fixtures displayed in mock store environments facilitates the clients in choosing shopfittings
Suntop's manufacturing facility in China, where wood fabrication, metal manufacturing and warehousing comprises 400,000 sq feet