JD.com's president for S-E Asia to join S'pore cloud kitchen start-up

JD.com's South-east Asia president has left the China e-commerce giant to join Singapore-based cloud kitchen start-up TiffinLabs.

Mr Soon Sze Meng, who held the role at JD.com for over two years, will become chief executive at TiffinLabs on Jan 1, the venture said in response to Bloomberg queries.

"With Sze Meng's deep experience in the e-commerce and digital economy sectors, we see a huge opportunity to scale our unique offering and evolve the food ecosystem to be fit for the digital economy," said TiffinLabs founder and chairman Kishin R.K.

Mr Kishin, a scion to a multibillion-dollar Singapore property empire, founded TiffinLabs in early 2019. He runs RB Capital, a privately owned property firm which, together with his father Raj Kumar's Royal Group Holdings, has more than a dozen office towers, malls and hotels in Singapore, including the 225-room InterContinental Singapore Robertson Quay.

TiffinLabs' current investors include KRK Capital, Phillip Private Equity, NewcrestImage and Hibiscus Fund (a partnership between RHL Ventures and KB Investment).

The company plans to expand its portfolio of digital restaurant brands to food and beverage operators across markets globally, TiffinLabs said in the statement.

Last year, the company said it planned to create a network of over 1,000 cloud kitchens across Asia, Europe and the United States.

Also known as dark or shared kitchens, cloud kitchens are centralised operations that can pump out an array of cuisines for established restaurants looking to broaden their delivery footprint, or for brands that exist nowhere else but behind an app.

They have become a model for food delivery firms looking to sidestep the costs of running traditional restaurants with seating and waiters, and can be located in cheaper premises like business parks rather than high street storefronts.

In South-east Asia, online food delivery is expected to grow 36 per cent this year, topping US$12 billion (S$16.3 billion) in gross merchandise value, according to a report by Google, Temasek and Bain & Co published this month.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 17, 2021, with the headline 'JD.com's president for S-E Asia to join S'pore cloud kitchen start-up'. Subscribe