Malay content publishing icon hands over reins to next generation leaders

Dato’ Hussamuddin Haji Yaacub chairman of Kumpulan Karangkraf for the past 43 years says it’s time for him to step aside and allow the following generation lead the biggest Bumiputra owned publisher in Malaysia.

Dato Hussamuddin will remain the chairman of the company but has not exercised an executive presence since January of last year.

Instead, Karangkraf’s five key business arms; Ultimate book publishing, printing division, Nu Ideaktiv, Sinar Group and the latest addition, Karangkrad Medicare will be led by Firdaus binti Hussamuddin, Akmal Eirfan bin Mohamed Fauzi, Syamil Fahim Bin Mohamed Fahim, Farah Binti Hussamuddin and Azizi bin Fickry respectively.

Karangkraf was started by Dato’ Hussamuddin in 1978.

“I wanted to create wealth for myself and being born in a small tiny bookshop in my hometown, I realised that the publishing business was a good opportunity as it was still in its infancy in the Malay market,” Dato’ Hussamuddin told MARKETING Magazine. “There were very few Malay books and I knew if I could start this, I would be able to create tons of Malay titles, which I did.”

At the height of its business, Karangkraf had an annual sales turnover of almost half a billion ringgit. However, in 2013, the company was affected by the digital disruption that pivoted the many media landscapes including the publishing business.

“I used to be known as a man with a golden touch as out of every 10 business decision I made, 9 would turn out good,” Dato’ Hussamuddin continued. “However 2013 and the digital disruption that came with it changed everything and I was caught unprepared as I realised my formula no longer worked and out of 10 decisions I made to improve business, 11 of them would turn out wrong,” he humoured.

Dato’ Hussamuddin added that despite bringing in corporate professionals to turn things around, he realised that using old management methods simply didn’t work.

Since 2014, the newspaper and magazine division was losing money and in 2017 the company sold 51% of its magazine arm to Astro through a RM100 million investment.

In 2017, Astro announced a joint venture with Grup Majalah Karangkraf Sdn Bhd (GMK), which will see an investment of RM100 million in the latter’s profitable digital arm KK360.

This was followed by a partnership with Astro’s digital marketing arm in 2018, Blaze Digital, to create Malaysia’s largest Malay digital content network. 

Before the digital disruption that took place in 2013, Karangkraf’s annual sales turnover was at almost half a billion ringgit.

According to Dato’ Hussamuddin, it was only in 2020 when they were able to transform and expand their market share after introducing innovative products and more relevant methods of sales. 

“In January of 2020, I gave (the younger generation) a free hand to run and they did things differently,” Dato’ Hussamuddin stated in a WhatsApp message sent earlier this week to his network. “They were young, but experienced and they understood the pulse of the market better and were able to turn things around and even expand our market share despite the pandemic.”

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