Shaking up fried-chicken business

Mr Puggaard, who is from Denmark, joined 4Fingers in 2013 and hopes to open outlets of the fried-chicken chain in the United States, Britain, South Africa and the Middle East.
Mr Puggaard, who is from Denmark, joined 4Fingers in 2013 and hopes to open outlets of the fried-chicken chain in the United States, Britain, South Africa and the Middle East.ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

With fowls ruling the roost this Chinese New Year, Chia Yan Min speaks to companies in the chicken business about the plans they are hatching in the Year of the Rooster.

Expansion - both at home and abroad - is on the cards this year for home-grown restaurant 4Fingers Crispy Chicken.

The fried-chicken chain, which is Singapore's second-largest chicken brand after KFC, also has plans to ramp up its international growth, said chief executive Steen Puggaard.

The company opened its first store in Ion Orchard in 2009 and now has 11 islandwide, with a 12th opening at the end of March in Causeway Point.

The plan is to open another three outlets in Singapore this year, said Mr Puggaard, who is from Denmark.

4Fingers also has two stores in Malaysia and plans to add a third this year. There are also stores in Indonesia, and it will be venturing into Australia this year by opening three outlets there.

"That's the strategy for us - to take 4Fingers to some very competitive markets," said Mr Puggaard.

 
 

Other markets the company is keen on include the United States, Britain, South Africa and the Middle East.

"We are not going down the normal avenue for most Singapore companies, which tend to look to emerging markets in South-east Asia.

"Instead, we're looking at mature markets because consumers there seem to be disenfranchised with existing brands. They're looking for brands that are new, fresh and different," he added.

The company expects to record $40 million in sales this year, up significantly from about $2 million in 2013 when Mr Puggaard first joined.

It has 12 staff in its office and about 150 employees working in its stores.

Another key focus this year is on improving customer service, said Mr Puggaard.

"We really want to provide an experience, rather than just being a fried-chicken chain. That will be the focus for this year - to take service up to a level that is not normally seen in casual restaurants.

"Consumers' expectations have been defined for way too long by brands that are established. We want to come in and shake that up," he added.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 30, 2017, with the headline 'Shaking up fried-chicken business'. Print Edition | Subscribe