Neo Garden to donate all Jan 1 revenue to charity

Local catering firm will make it an annual New Year's Day practice from now on

The takings of caterers usually spike on Jan 1, but local firm Neo Garden Catering will no longer see a cent for the New Year's Day parties it puts on.

In an unprecedented move, the company has decided to donate all its catering revenue to charity, not just next New Year's Day, but on every one thereafter as well.

"This is our way of giving back to society," founder and chief executive Neo Kah Kiat told The Straits Times. "Our business has done well, and doing business is not all about making money."

The 44-year-old started the business in 1993. It gradually expanded to include a chain of Japanese restaurants.

In 2012, the Neo Group - Neo Garden Catering's parent company - was listed on the Catalist board. It is now the largest player in the food catering business here with around 1,100 staff.

In May, the company reported a net profit of $7.4 million and a record revenue of $77.4 million for a 14-month period ending March 31 this year.

The one-day charity drive on Jan 1 is expected to raise between $100,000 and $200,000 for good causes.

"It can be higher if our customers support us and order food from us," said Mr Neo. "I plan to publicise this drive a few months before Jan 1 and invite our customers to join us."

He said that he picked Jan 1 for a purpose: "We want to start every new year on a positive note."

While the self-made millionaire has shortlisted a few charities to receive the funds, he prefers not to disclose their names for now.

Asked whether he will receive his shareholders' support for donating the catering revenue, he said with a laugh: "My wife Sally and I are the largest shareholders. We own 75 per cent of the company."

Mr Kenneth Wong, executive director of corporate giving at the National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre (NVPC), said: "We applaud this thoughtful and meaningful form of giving by Neo Garden Catering.

"Neo Garden Catering demonstrates how a company can add value to a number of its different stakeholders in a single initiative. It is giving back to the community and also inspiring the employees.

"NVPC hopes that more companies can do the same in their own capacities."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 11, 2015, with the headline 'Neo Garden to donate all Jan 1 revenue to charity'. Print Edition | Subscribe