4Fingers looks like one of the many Korean fried chicken establishments that you can find in Singapore, but with one glaring difference – they don’t hail from South Korea.
They are, in fact, a Singaporean brand.
The unnamed founders of Singapore’s second largest fried chicken chain (after KFC) didn’t even find inspiration from the streets of Seoul.
Instead, it was New York City’s Koreatown, where they adapted and perfected the recipe for the Singapore market.
Now helmed by current CEO Steen Puggaard, a Dane with 20 years of experience in the F&B industry, he is eyeing to bring 4Fingers to markets beyond Singapore.
One thing that people usually miss out is that this isn’t his first rodeo with 4Fingers. Previously a director in the company, he was fired for “refusing to breach his fiduciary duties” by the original owners.
Singaporeans Are Crazy Over 4Fingers
When you mention 4Fingers to anyone in Singapore, images of snaking queues and a packed restaurant comes to mind.
This was in the early years of its sole outlet at ION Orchard that they’ve occupied since 2009, and this was also a time when the hype for all things Korean was at an all time high.
It was only when Steen Puggaard took over as chief executive in 2014 did the great 4Fingers Singapore expansion begin. With his previous experience working in fast food giants McDonald’s and Burger King, he definitely knows how to scale the business.
Currently with ten stores and two franchised ones, 4Fingers has already earned an impressive $30 million this year alone.
This is a stark contrast from 2013 when the brand only had an annual revenue of only $2 million.
4Fingers sees itself as a step up from your traditional fast food places, so it’s no surprise that prices are more expensive. Service, quality, and value-for-money offerings are the highlights here.
That, as well as the drive to preserve their unique flavours – one of which comes from the soya sauce they use which originates from a family-owned business in Penang who have been long-time partners.
CEO Steen Puggaard says that he has rejected the advances of mass manufacturers who have approached him to make the sauce, because he feels that they will never be able replicate it.
You Might Just Spot 4Fingers In Australia Soon
Since clinching the number two spot in Singapore, 4Fingers is now considering making moves into the US and Europe, with Los Angeles as a likely destination after planting its flag in Malaysia and Indonesia.
In the meantime though, it seems that Australia will be their next destination.
CEO Steen Puggaard told Channel NewsAsia that two stores in Brisbane and one in Melbourne are projected to start operations by the end of June.
The menu for outlets outside of Singapore will be tweaked and Australia is seen as the perfect testbed for Western markets, and it will set the tone for the US expansion.
For one, there is no real need for the branches there to be Halal-certified, thus they will be including alcoholic beverages, increasing serving portions, and replacing menu boards with pegboards.
Disrupting More Than Just Fried Chicken
4Fingers also takes pride in giving customers the experience of casual dining in a vibrant, underground setting while serving quality, tasty food.
Much care has also been put into the company’s branding across digital media.
From having their own staff-curated Spotify playlist, to having online games that let customers have a chance to win a trip overseas, they are not slacking off when it comes to this aspect.
How 4Fingers aims to win the hearts of fast food lovers (especially in the West) is by addressing the the unhappiness that people have of the old established brands – the same brands who are failing to stay relevant with the changing tastes of consumers.
They are focused on going global and they have a strict three=point criteria for any country where they wish to go into.
First, it must be countries that respect the rule of law and the sanctity of contracts, second, countries with substantial spending power, and lastly, a market where consumers are showing sign of brand fatigue.
At the end of the day, the opportunity of spotting another familiar local brand every time we travel overseas will soon be another source of pride.