Santharuban Thurai Sundram has been appointed as the Chief Executive Officer of Etika Holding’s newly acquired Advend Group of Companies. Santharuban who is currently Etika’s senior vice president of marketing and alternate business will be responsible to spearhead the expansion of Advend System’s and bring to speed the implementation of contactless retail experience for consumers in Malaysia and Singapore in his new role.
With nearly two decades of marketing and commercial experience, he has launched multiple successful brands and expanded existing brands under Etika including Pepsi, Mountain Dew, Tropicana, WONDA Coffee, Goodday Milk, Calpis, Dairy Champ and more.
“I’m honored to be recognized by the management as a leader in our new pursuit towards excellence and I’m excited to helm the growth of Advend Group of Companies in the region,” Santharuban said. “In times of instant gratification, where consumers are used to a touch and go lifestyle, the vending business holds a lot of potential as it allows us to integrate new technologies in payments and shopping as we work to offer a contactless experience for our consumers.”
After starting off as a Brand Manager at Etika 12 years ago, he moved up the ranks to head the entire Marketing and subsequently added into his portfolio Trade Marketing, Alternate Business, On Premise and Sweetened Creamer Milk Wholesale.
In the industry, Santharuban is known to be a visionary, driven and innovative backed up by an impressive track record of working through award-winning creative campaigns and programs.
With his team, he spearheaded the launch of WONDA Coffee, aggressively increasing its year-on-year growth from a newbie in town to now the No. 2 player in the market within a few years, and growing faster than category. Similar achievements were shown with Goodday Milk when the brand doubled its market share in less than two years and significantly grew volumes, during its relaunch in 2016.
Under Santharuban’s astute leadership, Calpis became the No. 1 cultured milk drink in convenience stores while having top of mind recall for consumers. Understanding changing consumer behavior and preference for conscious alternatives, he also spearheaded the launch of Pepsi Black, making it a top consumer choice for Zero Calorie Cola in Malaysia.
Santharuban was awarded CMO of the year 2018 at the annual Malaysia Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Awards organised by MARKETING Magazine.
Etika acquired Advend Systems Pte Ltd, a Singapore based vending business in February 2020 in a strategic move to offer more value to their consumers. With this acquisition, Etika has now become the largest independent vending solutions provider in Malaysia and Singapore, with services ranging from hot and cold beverages like coffee, canned and bottled drinks as well as snacks such as cup noodles.
With more than 10,000 vending machines across Malaysia and Singapore, the company is expanding to increase their presence in high traffic, strategic locations. This acquisition also brings an added layer of convenience to consumers who can purchase their favourite drinks and snacks at more locations with multiple payment options including cashless payments, credit cards, cash etc.