Originating from New Zealand and active in Australia, Medifeet is growing rapidly in Malaysia, Thailand, and Singapore besides being the leading medical health shoe brand locally. While changing the way we perceive and how we treat our feet, Medifeet also redefines the purpose and concept of shoes.
Medifeet creates super-cushioning, conforming, and comfortable shoes with varying medical, therapeutic, corrective, protective, user-friendly, and supportive features built-in or inserted-in to fix all foot problems. Medifeet started-out humbly with only dealers and no retail shops but in just over 5 years they have grown to 34 branches throughout Malaysia. Their dealers have upgraded from home-based businesses to currently some owning 3-4 or even 5 retail shops within a few years. Their satisfied customers usually vow never to wear any other brand of shoes again once trying Medifeet.
The Beginning of Medifeet
Samantha Peh, CEO of Medifeet Group, Malaysia, at her HQ in Subang Jaya recently, shared, “The idea began in 2003 when visiting New Zealand and our close friend, Chris Peoples, a podiatrist –the founder of Medifeet, who runs a foot clinic there presently where he also designs and makes our custom-made medical shoes. It became apparent to my husband and myself, and later also to his family, the Pang’s, who are established shoe manufacturers in Malaysia, that there was a great need for comfort health footwear in Asia-Pacific.”
Peh said, though locally there wasn’t much awareness then about the importance of health footwear, they still saw the potential opportunity and brought Medifeet into Malaysia in 2005. However, the venture began under the Stepcare brand catering only for the uniform and medical footwear range. When awareness and demand for health shoes increased, they took-up the Medifeet sole-distributorship for South East Asia in 2013 and rebranded while increasing their shoe range and variety.
Medifeet ‘s products & Services
“Medifeet’s products and services are divided into custom-made, semi-custom-made, and readymade categories which solve 100% of foot problems for people with 2 feet. Readymade and semi-custom-made footwear combined provide solutions for 90% of our walk-in customers. They fix common foot problems including bunions, flat feet, hammer toe, minor uneven leg lengths, posture misalignment, and others,” she explained. “Whereas, our custom-made shoes cater to the remaining 10% of clients with major problems including badly deformed feet.”
Peh initially handled the company’s accounts & administration but when Medifeet Sdn. Bhd. was established, she took charge of the company and became involved also in developing products. Their readymade shoes are beautifully handcrafted in factories in China, Taiwan, and Thailand while their meticulously custom-made medical shoes are solely from New Zealand.
She recalled, “I loved shoes as a teenager, resulting in years of interest in fashionable ladies footwear like pointy and elegant high-heeled shoes that were painful and uncomfortable to wear. But ever since joining the health footwear business, I realized beautiful looking shoes weren’t that important as compared to shoes designed for comfort and health.”
While running the business her awareness grew about how important feet were in daily activities of people’s lives as she encountered many people disabled by serious foot issues. Because having major feet problems or no feet makes life difficult or even meaningless, Peh even coined the phrase ‘Foot is the Second Heart’.
However, knowing people still cherished beauty, she conceptualized the idea of building-in health and comfort components into health shoes while maintaining the beauty aspect. “I worked very closely with our podiatrist on this and now we have our very own creation, the innovative Orthotic System, which when used with our readymade range helps make the semi-custom-made range possible,” she elaborated.
The Orthotic System comprises insole support built-ins according to individual needs such as their built-in with arch support for solving flat feet problems. Their Spine Guard using Japanese technology and 3-point support built-in inside shoes are examples of their other 6-7 technologies. Competitors claim their products are similar to Medifeet but really can’t match its technological innovation, creativity, and quality.
Procedures & Efforts
“For medical custom-made shoes, only someone suffering feet, posture, or spine problems affecting their daily lifestyle needs them. A medical letter is required from a foot specialist before we assess the sufferer’s foot condition,” she expressed. “Then everything is sent to New Zealand for final assessment before the shoes are produced there.”
Since 2005, Medifeet has tirelessly approached medical professionals and consultants to enlighten them on the importance of medical health footwear for patients with foot problems including diabetes, toe amputations, bad foot wounds, and others. Medifeet doesn’t advertise but organizes roadshows and corporate social responsibility events, has articles written about them, continues educating doctors whom patients trust for advice on foot issues, and lets their products speak for themselves.”
Challenges & Future
Medifeet constantly faces challenges keeping up with the demand for their shoes. However, they can’t increase their production rate as they won’t compromise on their strict quality control. From 2019 onwards, Medifeet will focus on Thailand, China, Philippines, and Vietnam while continuously assuring customer satisfaction and highest quality in their footwear through excellent management and non-stop product development.
Medifeet’s retail operation team plays the key-role of bringing their products to the market. Mervin Pang, Peh’s in-law, oversees Malaysian and Thai operations, while she oversees the whole Medifeet Group in Malaysia. Medifeet usually targets the 35 years and above market but soon they will target the younger group too. “Most young people don’t care for their feet and only try to remedy in vain their feet problems flaring-up later in life,” she lamented and concluded. “Prevention is better than cure and because feet problems usually develop from young so feet care essentially should begin early by using the right footwear.”
Medifeet (HQ) Sdn Bhd