A Super idea behind household name

When entrepreneur David Teo founded Super in 1987 with $100,000, he was hardly a coffee drinker and the business was set up only to keep his wife June Te busy.

But his idea for Super's debut product - a mix of coffee powder, creamer and sugar packed in tiny 20g sachets - quickly caught the nation's attention and powered Super's growth into a household name.

The mainboard-listed company sells over 160 instant food and beverage products in over 65 countries. The products, including the Super Coffee, Owl, Essenso and Nutremill brands, are manufactured in 15 plants across Singapore, China, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam.

Mr Teo, 65, is known in business circles as a pioneer who dares to innovate and does not fear setbacks - hence Super's ever growing product range and regional footprint.

Super's clout in the industry led to it becoming the exclusive manufacturer of Pringles potato crisps outside the United States.

 

His perseverance also turned around the group's loss-making joint venture in China, while solidifying its manufacturing presence there to strengthen the com- pany's growth potential.

"You can't shut a business down just because it failed in the first few years, it could break even in the third year and start making money in the fourth," he had told The Straits Times in 2013.

As Super welcomes the $1.45 billion buyout offer from Jacobs Douwe Egberts just months away from the company's 30th anniversary, Mr Teo looks ahead with his characteristic confidence. "We are excited to have JDE as our majority shareholder moving forward, as we continue to build on the legacy we have established," he said in a statement yesterday.

Wong Wei Han

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 04, 2016, with the headline 'A Super idea behind household name'. Print Edition | Subscribe