How 2 S’poreans Constructed A US$23M Taiwanese Avenue Snacks Empire With 250 Shops Worldwide

How 2 S’poreans Built A US$23M Taiwanese Street Snacks Empire

This yr, Snack Empire was one among solely six Singaporean corporations to make it to Forbes Asia’s Greatest Below A Billion listing with a market worth approximating US$23 million (S$31.three million).

Greatest identified for its signature XXL Crispy Hen, Snack Empire owns the Shihlin Taiwan Avenue Snacks model, which is a mainstay within the native F&B scene.

The group was chosen for his or her constant high and bottom-line progress, regardless of falling shy of the billion-dollar mark.

In keeping with a 2020 Monetary Instances report, Snack Empire has grown its income by 13.77 per cent yr on yr with a 57.11 per cent enhance in web revenue progress.

Presently, the group generates HK$137.99 million (S$24.four million) in income and HK$20.23 million (S$2.55 million) in web revenue.

On this interview with Vulcan Publish, Snack Empire’s co-founders David Tay and Melvyn Wong share the key to their profitable F&B enterprise.

The Fateful Journey To Taiwan Throughout NS

The thought for the Shihlin Taiwan Avenue Snacks model was first conceived when David and Melvyn launched into an abroad train in Taiwan whereas serving their Nationwide Service.

Throughout the journey, the 2 had their choose of Taiwanese delicacies at night time markets, which ranged from finger meals and desserts to extra savoury dishes.

Lots of the dishes they tried out have been recreated beneath the Shihlin Taiwan Avenue Snacks model at the moment, corresponding to genuine Taiwanese crispy hen, crispy floss egg crepe, handmade oyster mee sua, seafood tempura and even boba milk tea.

Oyster Mee Sua / Picture Credit score: Daniel Meals Diary

Instantly taken with “comforting and attractive” Taiwanese road snacks, the 2 determined to forgo a steady profession and arrange an F&B enterprise after graduating from the Nationwide College of Singapore.

We determined to be entrepreneurs, strike out on our personal and begin the enterprise contemporary out of faculty. There was no turning again after that.

(Apart from), there was an untapped market: NS boys who’re conversant in (Taiwanese road snacks) would invariably introduce it to their mates and households.

David Tay and Melvyn Wong, Snack Empire co-founders

Replicating The Style Of Genuine Taiwanese Snacks

The 2 are massive on staying true to the genuine type of Taiwanese road meals delicacies in order that prospects can get pleasure from Taiwanese delicacies with out really having to fly to Taiwan.

To copy the tastes, David and Melvyn personally travelled to Taiwan to persuade culinary masters to impart their information and expertise, and spent lengthy hours spent within the kitchen to optimise cooking processes.

Recreating genuine Taiwanese delicacies alone wasn’t sufficient. The duo additionally insisted on offering the identical form of hospitality and care they skilled abroad.

In Taiwanese road meals tradition, there may be quite a lot of emphasis in offering value-for-money and honest service to the shopper.

The emphasis isn’t on how a lot the model can earn, however how one can present the very best in your prospects at an inexpensive worth level.

David Tay and Melvyn Wong, Snack Empire co-founders
taiwan crispy chicken shihlin night marketCrispy Hen at a Shihlin Night time Market / Picture Credit score: Taiwan Tourism Bureau

Solely premium elements are used at Shihlin Taiwan Avenue Snacks, in line with the duo.

For instance, contemporary hen breasts are used as a substitute of frozen meat. Their mee sua can be hand lower regardless of machines being extra inexpensive, whereas their egg crepes are customized made and imported from Taiwan.

Coupled with the need to recreate genuine Taiwanese road meals, the 2 have been additionally intent on constructing an “environment friendly and scalable system for enlargement.”

“Initially, it was very tough to align (these targets) given our restricted sources,” the pair admit.

In consequence, getting began required quite a lot of economising. When the 2 first opened an outlet at Far East Plaza in 2004, they needed to work round tight funds.

This meant being hands-on for retailer renovations, producing their very own advertising and marketing supplies, and even portray the outlet themselves as a result of there was no cash left to rent a contractor.

Constructing An Worldwide Franchise

“From the onset, we obtained very excessive curiosity in franchising our ideas regionally and abroad,” mentioned the co-founders.

“We hardly did any franchise advertising and marketing over time, and our abroad franchisees are literally loyal prospects of the model earlier than they determined to take the leap to the subsequent step.”

Whereas Shihlin Taiwan Avenue Snacks’ core choices stay the identical, their franchises adapt to various market calls for.

This contains working adhoc promotions with a localised menu to attraction to native markets, and using native advertising and marketing heads who’ve ground-up understanding of the native meals tradition.

Shihlin Taiwan Street SnacksPicture Credit score: Aroma Asian

By 2006, the model had already bought a million XXL Crispy Chickens worldwide.

In 2012, Shihlin Taiwan Avenue Snacks opened its 100th outlet and later expanded to america in 2016.

This yr, the model estimates that it has bought near 63 million XXL Crispy Chickens.

Shut To 250 Shops Worldwide

In October final yr, the model sought a public itemizing beneath Snack Empire Holdings Restricted on the Hong Kong inventory change. The itemizing propelled the group to Forbes’ listing, and has put them in a “higher place to tackle the massive boys.”

Previous to the itemizing, the Snack Empire model had been rising “organically” for the previous 16 years, says the duo.

(We’ve) been targeted on doing what it does finest, gunning for course of effectivity, and making intelligent use of capital to broaden in an environment friendly and risk-controlled method.

We additionally consider that by treating our prospects with respect, remaining true to model worth, we are able to guarantee buyer retention and that may in flip permit the group to revenue in an trustworthy approach.

David Tay and Melvyn Wong, Snack Empire co-founders

The Snack Empire group could contemplate increasing into different enterprise verticals by buying stakes of their companions, however the Shihlin Taiwan Avenue Snacks franchise will proceed to broaden.

Presently, Shihlin Taiwan Avenue Snacks have near 250 retailers in 4 nations worldwide, with plans to broaden into three yet-undisclosed nations regardless of the havoc Covid-19 is wrecking on retail.

“We are going to proceed to hunt high quality franchisees and high quality areas, and proceed with R&D in order that we are able to proceed to carry new Taiwanese road meals to our prospects.”

Featured Picture Credit score: The Normal / Shihlin Taiwan Avenue Snacks Fb

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