Koufu opens $55 million headquarters in Woodlands

The new headquarters is more than five times larger than Koufu’s previous central kitchens and corporate headquarters. ST PHOTO: FELINE LIM

SINGAPORE - Koufu’s workers used to carry, cut open and pour 300 bags of flour, weighing 25kg each, into mixing bowls. But this task that required six hours a day has now been automated, reducing human error and improving product consistency.

Tapping technology-driven infrastructure, such as the automated flour-transferring system called Silo, and conveyor spiral cooling towers, is what Koufu, one of Singapore’s largest foodcourt and coffee shop operators, is banking on to stay ahead in the food and beverage (F&B) sector.

Its new $55 million, seven-storey headquarters in Woodlands that opened on Wednesday is a key weapon in the battle, with $5 million invested in the automation and capability enhancement processes. Machinery like the Silo have improved productivity by 140 per cent.

New technology will be used to optimise operations across 180 F&B outlets, including the production of dim sum, baked goods, pastries and dough products.

Spanning 20,000 sq m, the new headquarters is more than five times larger than Koufu Group’s previous central kitchens and corporate headquarters.

The group, which celebrates its 20th anniversary in 2022, operates over 70 foodcourts and coffee shops in Singapore under the Koufu, Cookhouse, Gourmet Paradise, Fork & Spoon and Happy Hawkers brands.

It also runs three foodcourts in Macau, and franchises of brown sugar milk tea and fruit tea company R&B Tea in Indonesia and the Philippines.

Mr Pang Lim, chairman and chief executive of Koufu Group, noted that the new facility “allows for the broadening and consolidation of production, manufacturing and logistics capabilities” to achieve greater efficiencies and ensure that its brands remain vibrant here and abroad.

Speaking to The Straits Times, he said expansion abroad is also in the pipeline but the company will not rush into things, given the uncertain business climate. Rising interest rates, for example, have sparked worry among consumers.

“Our (new) factory is many times bigger than the previous one, but the 30-year lease gives us a good period of time to expand our business one step at a time,” he said. “We built up our business in the last 20 years based on stable progress, so it is not what we want to do in the next one or two years, but how we want to evolve our business by the end of 20 years.”

The company has passed on the productivity gains to the employees, with wage rises of up to 30 per cent in 2022 compared with 2020.

Minister of State for Trade and Industry Low Yen Ling, who was at the opening of the headquarters, said: “As demand and activities rebound, this is the time to press on with business transformation to capture new markets and grow the customer base.”

She added that the Government will continue to strengthen support for business transformation in food service companies.

Tapping technology-driven infrastructure is what Koufu is banking on to stay ahead in the food and beverage sector. ST PHOTO: FELINE LIM

Koufu’s new facility also supports small and medium-sized enterprises like F&B operators looking to expand their operations. It houses 20 units of food processing kitchens and a 24-unit cloud kitchen for lease.

On Wednesday, Koufu and the Consumers Association of Singapore also signed a memorandum of understanding to list food and beverages sold at 71 of its coffee shops and foodcourts on price comparison app Price Kaki.

Koufu’s new headquarters spans 20,000 sq m. ST PHOTO: FELINE LIM

In August, the app started to list prices at foodcourts and coffee shops run by Chang Cheng Mee Wah. The number of cooked food and beverages on Price Kaki now stands at more than 31,000 items sold at 114 hawker centres and 267 coffee shops and foodcourts.

Said Case president Melvin Yong: “We are now aiming to cover more than 500 coffee shops and foodcourts by the end of 2023.”

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.