The Chiang Family controls and manages Bonia Group
May 20, 2021
Bonia Corporation Berhad, a premium leather goods manufacturer cum lifestyle goods international retailer, was founded in 1974 by Chiang Sang Sem (SS Chiang) who is the major shareholder of Bonia Corporation. The second generation Chiangs are now managing the operations of Bonia Group. Bonia Corporation was listed on the Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange (now Bursa Malaysia) in 1994.
Founder SS Chiang who resides in Singapore has maintained a relatively low profile over the years. His younger brothers ran the operations, especially Datuk Albert Chiang Heng Kieng, who was the Group Managing Director of Bonia Corporation until he stepped down in September 2018. Datuk Albert Chiang was only 56 then and observers think that he relinquished his position to make way for SS Chiang’s children to take over the reins. Albert Chiang remains a Board Director of Bonia Corporation.
Currently three sons of SS Chiang are appointed Group Executive Directors of Bonia Corporation - Dato’ Sri Chiang Fong Yee, 43, Dato’ Sri Chiang Fong Tat, 42, and Dato’ Sri Chiang Fong Seng, 35. SS Chiang’s daughter, Chiang May Ling, 32, is Alternate Director to him on the Board of Bonia Corporation. Eldest son, Dato’ Sri Chiang Fong Yee, is also the Managing Director of CRG Incorporated Berhad which is listed on the LEAP market (28 November 2018). CRG Incorporated is licensed by Bonia Corporation to use the Carlo Rino trademark to manufacture, sell, distribute and promote the Carlo Rino brand.
On the Board of Bonia Corporation is also SS Chiang’s nephew, Chiang Fong Chyen, 40, who is Alternate Director to Datuk Albert Chiang. Fong Chyen is the son of another brother of SS Chiang, Chiang Sang Bon. Besides the Board involvement of the Chiang family, two key senior management positions are held by the youngest son of SS Chiang, Chiang Fong Xiang, 32, and his daughter-in-law, Datin Sri Tan Loo Yin, 42, who is married to Dato’ Sri Chiang Fong Tat. It is very much a family affair at the top management of Bonia Corporation.
The Bonia name
If Bonia sounded Italian it is because of SS Chiang’s fascination with Italy and its exquisite handcrafted leather products. According to a rare personal interview with The Straits Times in 2014 SS Chiang said he visited Bologna in 1979 and he loved the place. He wanted an Italian sounding name for the brand he was to build in premium leather products so “ Bologna...Bologna....Bonia” and he thought it was easier to pronounce Bonia than Bologna for Asians. That was how the brand name Bonia was conceived.
Bonia Group’s core activities is in product design, manufacturing, promotion, marketing, distribution, wholesale and retail of luxury leatherwear, footwear, apparel and accessories for both men and women of various brands. Retailing is the Group’s main contributor to revenue and profit. In Malaysia the stand-alone boutiques operate under the brand names of Bonia, Braun Buffel, Sembonia, Renoma, Valentino Rudy and Santa Barbara Polo & Racquet Club. The Bonia Group has expanded its operations to Singapore, Indonesia, Vietnam, Myanmar, Cambodia, Brunei, Japan, Taiwan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and China. For the overseas markets, Bonia’s products are sold through retail stores managed by its licensees, distributors and dealers except for Singapore and Vietnam, where the Group operates through its subsidiary companies. The Group’s leatherwear and other products are mainly sourced from local factories, contract manufacturers and OEM factories, as well as from China and other ASEAN countries. A factory in Melaka produces the Bonia brand of leather products.
In January 2012 Bonia Corporation acquired a 49% equity interests in Braun Verwaltungs-GmbH and Braun GmbH & Co KG (Braun KG), a German family owned leathergoods maker for a total cash consideration of €980,000, as well as the acquisition of the Braun Büffel trademark that is registered in the UAE, US and Canada for €20,000. The deal which was valued around RM13.1million gives Bonia Corporation the rights to the Braun Buffel trademark in the UAE, US and Canada (excluding Europe) and the exclusive distribution rights for Braun Buffel products in the Asia Pacific. Braun Buffel was founded by Johann Braun in 1887 and has largely remained a family run business. Finding an Asian partner for expansion of the brand in the Asia Pacific has resulted a partnership via shareholding with Bonia Corporation.
It has been good for Bonia Corporation also. For FY 2020 Braun Buffel products contributed RM115.38 million or 33.5% to group revenue.
Family Managed Firm
Chiang Sang Sem, 67, remains the Group Executive Chairman of Bonia Corporation. His younger brother, Datuk Albert Chiang Heng Kieng, 58, who was the Group Managing Director of Bonia Corporation for a long time stepped down in September 2018. In October 2018 SS Chiang took on the role of Group CEO for a year plus and then relinquished the CEO position on 1 January 2020. No Group Managing Director has been appointed to date. SS Chiang has three sons who are appointed Group Executive Directors of Bonia Corporation.
Datuk Albert Chiang Heng Kieng, 58, was the Group Managing Director of Bonia Corporation for a long time till he stepped down in September 2018. He continues to hold directorship in several subsidiaries of the Company and does not have any other directorships of public companies. Currently, he is serving as the Life Time Honorary President of the Malaysian Retailer-Chains Association (MRCA), a Director of MRCA Branding Education Charity Foundation, a Council Member of Malaysian AEON Foundation, a Council Member of Chinese Chamber of Commerce & Industry of Kuala Lumpur & Selangor (KLSCCCI) and a Council Member of Kuala Lumpur Eng Choon Hoey Kuan (Association of Hokkien, Eng Choon)
Dato’ Sri Chiang Fong Yee, 43, is the Managing Director of CRG Incorporated Berhad (“CRG”) and spearheads the CRG Group’s business direction and overall strategies and policies to drive the growth and innovation of Carlo Rino products. He obtained his Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing and Statistics from Middlesex University in the United Kingdom in 1999. He joined the Board on 18 February 2004 as the Alternate Director to Chiang Sang Sem. On 1 September 2018, he resigned from the alternate directorship and was appointed as a Non-Independent Non-Executive Director of Bonia Corporation Berhad. He is presently a Group Executive Director of Bonia Corporation
Dato’ Sri Chiang Fong Tat, 42, graduated with a Bachelor (Hons) Degree in Marketing and Management from Middlesex University in the United Kingdom and joined Bonia Group in 2000. He was appointed to the Board on 30 August 2004 as a Group Executive Director of the Company. He is responsible for the Group’s expansion and growth, market entry, product research and development as well as business efficiency. He is presently a Group Executive Director of Bonia Corporation
Dato’ Sri Chiang Fong Seng, 35, was appointed to the Board on 10 January 2014 and holds the position as Group Executive Director. He graduated in year 2007 with a Bachelor of Commerce from The University of Melbourne, Australia. He joined Bonia Group in year 2008 initially as Personal Assistant to the Founder and Group Executive Chairman and was eventually promoted as Associate Director. His responsibilities were expanded across the Company over the years with his involvement in the Group’s business development, strategic planning, products research and development. He was conferred Darjah Kebesaran Sultan Ahmad Shah Pahang Yang Amat DiMulia - Peringkat Pertama Sri Sultan Ahmad Shah Pahang (SSAP) which carries the title Dato’ Sri in year 2013. He was appointed as Vice President of Malaysian Dato’ Entrepreneurs’ Association (MDEA) for 2 consecutive terms 2015-2017 and 2018-2020. He is presently a Group Executive Director of Bonia Corporation
Chiang May Ling, 32, Alternate Director to SS Chiang. graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce majoring in Accounting and Finance from Deakin University. She joined the Board on 01 September 2018 as the Alternate Director to her father SS Chiang. Chiang May Ling has more than 9 years of experience in retail industry. Presently, she is a Director of De Marts Marketing Sdn. Bhd. (a subsidiary of Bonia Corporation Berhad) primarily responsible for the product planning, sourcing and developing, analysing and implementation of marketing strategy for ladies’ footwear of Bonia Group. She is also the Chief Sustainability Officer of Bonia Group
Chiang Fong Chyen, 40, holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Information Technology from Coventry University. He joined the Board on 1 September 2018 as the Alternate Director to his uncle Datuk Albert Chiang. Fong Chyen has over 10 years of sales and marketing experience. He is currently a Director of Alpha Footwear Sdn. Bhd., Podium Retail Sdn. Bhd. and SBM Marketing Sdn. Bhd. (all are subsidiaries of Bonia Corporation Berhad). His main responsibilities include implementation of marketing strategy, operations management, and product and business development for the licensed brands under the Bonia Group. He is the son of Chiang Sang Bon, younger brother of SS Chiang.
Key Senior Management
Chiang Fong Xiang, 32, graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics and Finance from Singapore Institute of Management (SIM) - RMIT University, Melbourne in 2013. He joined Bonia Group on 01 May 2013 under Active World Pte. Ltd. heading the merchandising and marketing division. He was appointed as a Director of Active World Pte. Ltd. on 19 March 2014 overseeing the BONIA leatherwear division. He is currently responsible for research and development, product sourcing, planning and implementation of marketing strategy, product distribution for ladies’ leatherwear in department stores and boutiques. He is the youngest son of SS Chiang.
Datin Sri Tan Loo Yin, 42, SS Chiang’s daughter-in-law – wife of Dato’ Sri Chiang Fong Tat, obtained her Bachelor (Hons) Degree in Business Economics & Marketing from Middlesex University, United Kingdom in 2000. She joined Bonia Group in June 2006 as Personal Assistant and subsequently she was promoted to the position of Brand Manager of the leatherwear division in January 2007. Thereafter, she was appointed as Executive Director of SBG Holdings Sdn. Bhd on 01 January 2013 primarily responsible for research and development planning, product distribution of men’s & ladies leatherwear and footwear divisions for SEMBONIA Brand.
Financial results FY 2020
For financial year ended 30 June 2020 Bonia Corporation registered a group revenue of RM344.96 million and group pre-tax profit of RM10.8 million. By Brands, Bonia contributed RM 140.44 million (40.9%), Braun Buffel RM115.38 million (33.5%), Sembonia RM33.98 million (9.9%), Licensed brands RM54.15 million (15.97%).
The Carlo Rino brand was spun off and listed on the LEAP market as CRG Incorporated Berhad on 28 November 2018. SS Chiang’s son, Dato’ Sri Chiang Fong Yee, a board member of Bonia Corporation, is the Managing Director of CRG Incorporated. Carlo Rino has 37 boutiques and outlets and over 90 departmental store counters in Malaysia and other parts of the world. The Carlo Rino trademark held by CRG Incorporated is on a licensee basis. For FY2020 (30th June) registered revenues of RM80.6 million and profit before tax of RM5.288 million.
As of 30 September 2020, SS Chiang is deemed beneficially interested in 41.08% of the issued share capital of Bonia Corporation Berhad (Bonia Corporation) via Bonia Holdings Sdn. Bhd and Freeway Team Sdn.Bhd. (Bonia’s 2020 Annual Report).
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