BATU KAWAN (Jan 15): Tourism and property development outfit turned healthcare product manufacturer Iconic Worldwide Bhd, via its subsidiary Iconic Medicare Sdn Bhd, has launched a RM200 million glove and face mask manufacturing facility in Batu Kawan Industrial Park, Penang.
During the factory’s launch officiated by Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow, the group said six double former glove dipping lines have started running at the factory, with a slated six more glove dipping lines and 20 medical face mask production lines to be commissioned and installed by March this year.
“The factory, which is built on 5.5-acre land, is expected to yield a minimum production capacity of 3.3 billion pieces of gloves and 220 million pieces of disposable face masks per annum.
“With the group already locking in mass orders for its gloves and face masks, predominantly from the US, Europe, Africa and Asia, the factory’s opening puts Iconic Worldwide on the right track to become a major player in the global market within five years,” it added.
Less than a month earlier, Iconic Worldwide secured a 510 (k) pre-market notification approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to distribute medical-grade gloves throughout the US.
Despite the administration of Covid-19 vaccines worldwide, the group noted that the emergence of variants such as Omicron is expected to sustain the demand for gloves and face masks in the short term.
In fact, in the long term, Iconic Worldwide executive director James Tan said, the group expects mask-wearing to stay as somewhat of a norm post-pandemic, with 30% to 40% of current face mask demand being sustained.
“Actually, we are looking at the long term. From what we learn from these two years (2020-2021), [it] is that people are okay with wearing masks. So we are forecasting around 30-40% [of current demand] even if the government says mask-wearing is no longer needed.
“We believe 30-40% will still be wearing face masks. The demand will be there,” he said.
Besides expanding its production capacity by installing new production lines in its Batu Kawan factory, the group also plans to further improve the automation of the factory’s manufacturing process.
Tan said 80% of the factory’s manufacturing process is automated, adding that the group aims to increase it to 90-100% one year from now.
In terms of funding, he said Iconic Worldwide so far does not have any slated fundraising exercises planned, noting that the group has generated enough funds internally to satisfy the financial needs of its expansion plans.
“A further RM20 million will be used to further improve the automation of the factory. For this (improving the factory’s automation) currently we have enough funds, all of it is internally generated,” said Tan.
Previously, the group on Nov 10 shared its desire to explore the possibility of producing nitrile butadiene rubber in Malaysia to address the market demand for the raw material.
On Saturday, Tan said there are no updates on whether Iconic Worldwide plans to venture into upstream operations, adding that the group will share future updates via filings to Bursa Malaysia.