“ST Rosyam Mart will promise a shopping experience that has never existed in any other supermarket in Malaysia,” actor and entertainer, Datuk Rosyam Nor, declared during an announcement on Instagram.
That was back in 2017. And while he wouldn’t be completely right, he wasn’t wrong either.
ST Rosyam Mart revamps the concept of a wholesale supermarket. Instead of being grungy and messy, it’s bright and tidy. Just like what you would expect of a regular mart.
You could think of it as your typical Aeon or Jaya Grocer, but with pasar pagi prices, or sometimes even lower than that.
It wasn’t a random decision though
As a kid, it had always been a dream of Datuk Rosyam’s to open up a supermarket.
“I don’t come from a well-to-do background. So, the launch of ST Rosyam Mart is to help those who don’t have it easy,” the actor shared.
The idea was first conceptualised back in 2015, two years before its doors opened. With an array of offerings, the supermarket allows customers to buy everyday necessities at an affordable price.
Whether it’s vegetables, meats, dry food, personal care, or household items, the supermarket ensures pocket-friendliness.
But this wasn’t Datuk Rosyam’s first dabble into the agricultural sector. In 2009, he had a hand in plantation projects involving jackfruits and soursops. There aren’t many updates on them, so they might have stopped.
The first ST Rosyam Mart was opened in Setiawangsa, KL. While it’s not the first wholesale market to operate on a 24-hour basis, it’s definitely one of the nicer looking ones.
But how are they able to keep the prices below average market rates?
Speaking candidly, Datuk Rosyam explained, “We want to give equality to consumers without the involvement of middlemen or distributors. Deals are made directly, including from farmers and fishermen at affordable, cheap prices.”
It’s a business model that quite a few e-grocer sites in Malaysia use too.
Fame and drama go hand-in-hand
With the launch of ST Rosyam Mart and its mission, it seemed destined to become a neighbourhood favourite.
But shortly afterwards, word spread around accusing Datuk Rosyam of being a “barua cina”, which is basically calling him a “lackey to the Chinese”.
The rumours insisted that Datuk Rosyam was only an ambassador, while the actual owner was Datuk Raymond Ho of Sri Ternak Group.
Some people even went as far as transmitting information from the Companies Commission of Malaysia (SSM), disputing the fact that he’s a shareholder.
Used to the practice of damage control, the actor filed a police report at Jalan Tun Razak Police Station and clarified his position in the company.
“I’m not an ambassador of ST Rosyam Mart as claimed, but a co-owner because I hold a 10% share. I also have nothing to do with the management of Sri Ternak Group,” the actor later explained during a press conference.
“I only work with the director of Sri Ternak, Datuk Raymond Ho, who also holds 89% shares while his brother, Alan Ho, owns one percent in ST Rosyam Mart.”
He further explained that the company’s name was due to a prior agreement between all three shareholders. From my understanding, his strong reputation within the Malay community makes this a good branding decision.
As the store locations are also primarily in Malay-dominated areas, this media association serves as a form of marketing strategy. They currently have five outlets—Setiawangsa, Shah Alam, Kepong, Sungai Buloh, and Subang Jaya.
It’s also for the people
In keeping with Datuk Rosyam’s initial reasoning for the brand’s launch, the wholesale supermarket continues to collaborate with initiatives that help the local community.
For example, the brand worked with TV9 to offer fresh whole chickens at RM1.49 last year. 2,000 pieces were reportedly sold within two days.
Besides that, its Setiawangsa outlet took part in Program Jualan Keluarga Malaysia started by the Ministry of Domestic Trade and Cost of Living in 2021. The governmental scheme offered customers with daily food necessities (like rice and cooking oil) at lower prices.
They also had an initiative with Invest Selangor Bhd that targeted local food suppliers a few months ago. In an effort to help these entrepreneurs increase their visibility and reach a wider market, ST Rosyam Mart added 118 products to its shelves.
The brand also features frequent promotions for its grocery products, especially during festive seasons. At one point they were selling fresh whole chickens at RM0.88 per piece. Talk about a bargain!
Changing the landscape of wholesale supermarket
According to Kosmo, the wholesale retailer aims to open up 20 stores by the end of 2025. There are also plans to provide locals with the opportunity to franchise it.
“Of course, we are trying to go further until we are listed on the stock exchange,” Datuk Rosyam said.
Personally, I’m a regular shopper at their Shah Alam outlet, and I have to say I’m still impressed by the concept.
The items are all neatly arranged and the place is quite clean despite having a “wet market” area in the back. This is vastly different from the other wholesale markets I’ve visited before. And their fresh and frozen food offerings were quite large.
Even my Iranian friend commented on the selection of meats available, stating the difficulty in finding the right kind for Persian delicacies at other stores.
So I’m excited to see how far this partnership between Datuk Rosyam and the Sri Ternak Group will go. If they can continue to prove the sustainability of their concept, then others may follow suit, benefitting consumers as a whole.
- Learn more about ST Rosyam Mart here.
- Read other articles we’ve written about Malaysian startups here.
Featured Image Credit: ST Rosyam Mart