F&B is a competitive industry to be in, and these professionals share what it takes to survive.

Anna Lee  |  MY
Published 2016-05-26 15:45:17

Finding one’s footing, as a business entity, in the midst of economic uncertainty is not easy. Whilst trying to monetise and earn the happiness of customers and clients, businesses still have to remain relevant because the very moment they no longer are, they’re off the map. As times evolve, so must a business.

Many industries might not survive the heat, but those which will always remain emerging from any crisis are those with a clear insight into the industry. With perseverance and an outlook into what would survive any trials, businesses could see through stormy weather.

One industry which would continue to thrive regardless of the economic weather, is F&B. That is not merely a general statement without reasoning either. Everyone knows that regardless of anything, we still need to eat and drink. In a sit-down chat with Vulcan Post, Chatime’s CEO Bryan Loo even admitted that very fact (it is also one of the main reasons he chose to venture into the F&B industry). Even so, within F&B itself, there is bound to be some competition.

Knowing that the F&B industry is one that’s fluid and highly dependant on the fickle minds of its consumers, Vulcan Post decided to ask 5 industry big shots who have their foot in the F&B industry one very important question: “What is one rarely known secret to survive in this industry?”

1. Teoh Wee Kiat 

Image Credit: Kickstart.my
Image Credit: Kickstart.my

Wee Kiat is the co-founder of myBurgerLab, a business which revolves around burgers and the fare. What makes them unique is that they are one of the first few local chains to have charcoal burger buns instead of the regular white buns. In fact, according to their Facebook page, the charcoal buns were born out of their need to create a soft and fluffy bun for the customers’ consumption. Now 4 years on, myBurgerLab has 4 locations in Klang Valley to call their own.

Wee Kiat’s word of advice for surviving in the F&B industry is:

“The team. Building a team that always put others first and being there for each other every time the door opens.”

2. Benjamin Yong

Image Credit: FoodInKL
Image Credit: FoodInKL

Benjamin Yong is the founder and group CEO of BIG Group, which is every bit reflective of its name, for it owns brands are not just in food and beverages, but also in places like Ben’s Independent Grocery. Under the umbrella of F&B, the BIG group owns Plan B, Beast, Hit & Mrs, and Barlai, just to name a few.

Benjamin’s word of advice for surviving in the F&B industry is:

“Evolution. The ability and willingness to change with the times.”

3. Kent Chua

Image Credit: Kent Chua Facebook page
Image Credit: Kent Chua Facebook page

Kent Chua is the co-founder and CEO of Connexion Group. Connexion Group, which started in 2010, is a restaurant and bar group currently owning 5 brands which are The Beer Factory, TBF, The Library, Geoventure and The Rabbit Hole. These entities are permanent fixtures around the dining and night life scene in Malaysia.

Kent’s word of advice for surviving in the F&B industry is:

“To put the target consumer as the company decision maker.”

4. Edmund Tan

Edmund, with fellow co-founder, Lim Shiew Li. (Image Credit: The Malay Mail Online)
Edmund, with fellow co-founder, Lim Shiew Li. (Image Credit: The Malay Mail Online)

Edmund Tan is the co-founder of Inside Scoop, a branch of artisanal ice cream cafés in Malaysia. Flavours such as lychee and Earl Grey, accompanied with scrumptious waffles makes Inside Scoop stand out as a dessert place which caters to different types of taste buds. Starting an ice cream brand which centres in a geographically-strategic place on the map, like Malaysia with its sunny weather, was the first wise choice that Inside Scoop made.

Edmund’s word of advice for thriving in the business is:

“Perseverance and belief in your own product. Don’t get distracted by fickleness and jump on the trend wagon.”

5. Bryan Loo

Image Credit: Asia Tatler
Image Credit: Asia Tatler

Bryan Loo is the master franchisor of the Taiwanese tea brand Chatime. Ever since finding solid ground in Malaysia, Chatime expanded to not just shopping malls, but also wisely to petrol brands like Shell and Petronas. As Bryan shared with Vulcan Post, people may not be heading to a shopping mall every week, but they would be pumping petrol once or twice a week at the very least. It is this mindset of continually evolving with the consumers that sees Chatime a permanent fixture among Malaysians.

Bryan’s word of advice for surviving in this cut-throat industry is:

“We made a lot of mistakes. Because of these incidents, the team grew a lot more close. When we made mistakes, through it we gained a lot of insights. Everything happens to make you stronger and a lot more resilient.”

These are just some of the insights shared by industry professionals on how to not only survive in the industry, but to thrive as well.

One suitable avenue to hear more inspiring stories from those who have weathered the years in the F&B world, would be the upcoming Malaysia 2016 Food & Beverage Career Fair. Organised by JoBi, a job-hunting platform, the event would feature more than 30 leading employers who are looking to recruit talents.

This is your chance to explore and get recruited by some big players in the F&B industry and obtain some high-value exposure. Some of the big industry players which will be gracing the event are The B.I.G Group, The Melium Group, Chaswood Resources Group, Dome, Chatime, Starbucks, Domino’s Pizza, Sushi King, Nando’s, MilkCow, and myBurgerlab.

The event would be happening on May 28-29, from 10am to 7pm at Level 3, Avenue K, Kuala Lumpur. It will be emceed by Reuben Kang of JinnyboyTV and co-founder of Morning Wood café. Tickets can be purchased here.

Feature image credit: Teoh Wee Kiat (by Choy May Choo on MalayMailOnline); Benjamin Yong (by B.I.G. group); Bryan Loo (by Asia Tatler)

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