I recall the times in my childhood when my aunt would invite me to her place so I could help—more like watch—her bake. Before getting started, we’d head to the little baking supply shop in the neighbourhood of Taman Megah, PJ.
Those were my first few memories of Bake With Yen (BWY). Today, the brand has become a household name for bakers with almost 100 stores around Malaysia, known for its affordability and accessibility.
Madam Yen began her retail business at TTDI and Chow Kit, KL in 1987.
13 years later, the family business expanded to Sabah, before opening the Taman Megah outlet in 2002, which is now one of the brand’s superstores.
BWY’s superstores are designed around the concept of a baking supermarket, featuring larger spaces, wider aisles, and higher shelves that can display more items as well as host an extensive chiller space.
Around 2015 to 2016, BWY was acquired by a private equity company, Creador. At that point, BWY had about 15 outlets.
The baking supplies shop’s current CEO, Alexandre (Alex) Rosso told Vulcan Post that BWY now has 84 stores around Malaysia are is present in most states including Perak, Johor, Kedah, Negeri Sembilan, Kedah, and Terengganu.
BWY describes itself as Malaysia’s largest baking supply store. It carries about 4,000 product items, covering international and local brands across six key categories.
They include dairy (butter, milk, cheese, cream cheese), chocolate (all types), dried fruit and nuts, flour, premixes, and durables (packaging, equipment, and tools).
The company even produces its in-house baking products under the brands Butteria, Butterich, Cottura, Good Earth, and Mama Lena.
Built on the belief that anyone can bake
For many, baking is a form of stress relief as they can express their creativity by playing with flavours or even decor.
Personally, I’d almost always resort to premixes for cakes, muffins, pineapple tarts, and cookies whenever I had to bake. Plus, buying 500 grams of flour I’d only use once is wasteful. BWY’s in-house premixes with over 50 varieties are a saving grace in such situations.
It’s part of the brand’s ambition, helping everyone learn to bake via these easy recipes and baking classes for more hands-on learning, or a fun weekend activity.
With the cost of food rapidly increasing, BWY also aims to keep the prices of its baking supplies low without sacrificing quality, perhaps leveraging its economy of scale.
For context, BWY’s premixes can start as low as RM3.20 for a 500g pack of chocolate cake mix. Lotus’s cheapest chocolate cake mix cost RM11.90 for 430g.
This year, they also launched two major price initiatives which were:
- The BWY Everyday Low Prices commitment, where they offered a fixed list of everyday essentials at low prices; and
- The Why Pay More initiative, which is about highlighting the high-quality, certified brands that customers can find at BWY’s stores for common products like butter, cheese, cream, and chocolate.
Those purchasing in bulk from BWY includes hobbyists to small businesses and cafes, who can also benefit from these additional savings.
Managing a large-scale family brand
In Q1 this year, Alex took over as CEO at BWY. Alex brings with him 23 years of experience in retail across Asia, and claims to have a deep passion for doing right by customers.
He shared that the company faced few issues in the transition due to its existing strong leadership. Although, Alex pointed out that managing BWY’s large supply network for the varying cultural needs and food preferences across Malaysia was definitely a challenge.
“We have to know our customers well, understand and anticipate their needs, and adapt quickly to changing market preferences and food trends,” Alex told Vulcan Post.
Hence, Alex shared that BWY relies on data analytics, engages their suppliers and partners to manage changing trends, and actively surveys the market.
When asked whether Alex intends to expand BWY to other regions around SEA, he told Vulcan Post that there are no such plans to take on the overseas market at the moment.
With a presence in almost every Malaysian state to date and diverse offerings of Halal and HACCP-certified products, Bake With Yen seems set to continue its domination of our local baking supplies industry.
Alex reassured, “We are continuously looking for opportunities to carry new products and alternative brands at different price points, so that customers can be assured of good quality products at different price points.”
Featured Image Credit: Alexandre Rosso, CEO of Bake With Yen