Jumbo tests water before going overseas

Jumbo Group chief executive Ang Kiam Meng  joined Jumbo in 1993. His father started the business in 1987 at East Coast Seafood Centre with investments from nine friends.
Jumbo Group chief executive Ang Kiam Meng joined Jumbo in 1993. His father started the business in 1987 at East Coast Seafood Centre with investments from nine friends.PHOTO: JUMBO GROUP

Even conservative companies can find a global strategy that works for them, said Jumbo Group chief executive Ang Kiam Meng yesterday.

He told a seminar organised by branding firm Louken Group: "In fact, we just started to look at the international market in 2013.

"But before that, being a very conservative company, we were very careful with expansion. We spent about a year studying overseas markets before we chose Shanghai."

The Jumbo Group opened its first overseas outlet - in Shanghai's IAPM Mall - in November 2013.

Mr Ang was confident the move would work as Jumbo had been pulling Chinese tourists into its Singapore restaurants for a time.

NEED TO BE FOCUSED

Our overseas strategy is that you need to be very focused. Opportunities are many and there are very limited resources.

MR ANG KIAM MENG, Jumbo Group CEO, on the company's philosophy.

But he also built up that confidence with more research: "We did a very detailed market survey, engaged a consultant to do focus groups, made a number of trips to the city to understand the spending power and the culture.

"At the same time, because my very good friend George Quek (who is behind the BreadTalk Group) happened to know a Hong Kong developer looking for a new brand to introduce into their mall, everything came together and we decided to go."

"Our overseas strategy is that you need to be very focused. Opportunities are many and there are very limited resources," said Mr Ang.

"Our general philosophy is that if I've to open 10 shops overseas, I'd rather open all 10 in one city that's big enough to have capacity for 10 shops. Why?

"This is so that my team of managers and chefs can focus to fully develop the market there."

Another focus for Jumbo is occupancy rates. Mr Ang said: "We need to fill up the restaurant to maximise our fixed costs. If you see a lot of our restaurants, every night we have at least 1.5 or two rounds of turn.

"We're talking about the revenue turnaround of two restaurants, with the overhead of one restaurant. That's how we can maximise our productivity."

Mr Ang joined Jumbo in 1993. His father started the business in 1987 at East Coast Seafood Centre with investments from nine friends.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 10, 2017, with the headline 'Jumbo tests water before going overseas'. Print Edition | Subscribe