Headline / July 2019

Digital Food

As the third generation of one of Indonesia’s most successful business groups, Axton Salim has big shoes to fill. His determination to bring the Salim Group’s business into the digital era has prompted his involvement in the startup scene and digital incubation programs. He continues to develop the business, while maintaining the proven success and trust in the company brand.

By Gilang Al Farisi

The son of Anthoni Salim and grandson of group founder Sudono Salim enjoys the prestige that comes with being the youngest director at PT Indofood Sukses Makmur. Axton is a graduate of the University of Colorado, having majored in applied science and marketing. After completing his education, he started his career in investment banking at Credit Suisse in Singapore. He was appointed marketing manager at PT Indofood Fritolay Makmur in 2004 and worked his way up to eventually become assistant chief executive at Indofood. He has been exploring innovative ways for the company to reach new markets and attract more attention to its products Axton sees value in changing the company’s products to suit the needs of consumers in target markets. Aside from listening to what consumers want, he also heavily promotes the group’s products on social media and through traditional advertising. This saw the group reaching new markets and expanding its customer base to include both the middle- and lower-income groups. Under his direction, the company also penetrated the e-commerce market through collaboration with Tokopedia, Elevania and IDMarco. Axton aims to further bolster growth in the coming years through these e-commerce partnerships. PT Indofood has set aside Rp 3.9 trillion ($276 million) this year for expansion.

Digital Investment

Axton has also made great strides in the startup sector, having established an incubator facility last year to assist digital companies. Block71 is the result of collaboration between the Salim Group and National University of Singapore Enterprise, and serves as a bridge for startups in Singapore and Indonesia. He hopes the initiative will boost development in the Indonesian economy through technology-based trade and bring more attention to the nation on the global stage. Blok71 has so far established a presence in Jakarta, Singapore, San Francisco and Suzhou, China. The incubation facility has already produced several startups, such as Regopates, an e-commerce business that directly connects farmers to buyers, and Singapore-based Popbox Asia Services, which delivers products through specially dedicated lockers. While Axton’s efforts have been successful in improving the Salim Group’s bottom line, what is perhaps more import, is the fact that he had taken the business into the digital domain. The group recently announced higher profit for last year and in the first quarter of 2019. PT Indofood Sukses Makmur and PT Indofood CBP Sukses Makmur have been credited as the two subsidiaries that have performed most consistently. The producer of Indomie saw its profit increase to Rp 6.45 trillion from Rp 5.22 trillion last year, largely due to a variety of new products introduced into the market and the company’s careful efforts to keep its loyal consumers happy by listening to what they want. Axton has also embraced the new media to tirelessly promote the company’s products in new markets and keep the products relevant in the digital age. Axton is consistently innovating and improving the group’s strategies, not only through the introduction of exciting new products, but also by updating its business model.