A fascinating company is the Breadtalk Group http://breadtalk.com/home.html). Based in Singapore, the company was founded just 12 years ago and listed on the SGX in 2003, and has rapidly expanded to become a distinctive household brand with its bakery, restaurant and food atrium footprints. Its brand portfolio comprises BreadTalk®, Toast Box, Food Republic, Din Tai Fung, The Icing Room, RamenPlay and Carl’s Jr in China.
They have 6,000 employees with a network of over 400 bakery outlets in 16 countries such as Singapore, China, Hong Kong, South Korea and the Middle East. It also operates more than 10 Michelin Star Din Tai Fung restaurants in Singapore and Thailand, as well as over 30 award-winning Food Republic food atriums in Singapore, PRC, Hong Kong and Malaysia.
It is interesting how they have combined food court-type operations with Michelin-starred restaurants. Din Tai Fung was awarded a Michelin Star and ranked as one of the world’s Top Ten Best Restaurants by The New York Times. This Taiwanese restaurant has branches in Singapore, Thailand, Australia, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, South Korea and USA.
Alongside Din Tai Fung, they have Carl’s Jr., a U.S.-based burger chain that has partnered with BreadTalk to develop the Carl’s Jr. ® brand in the China.
In 2005 they entered the food court business with its acquisition of the 大食代 (dashidai) chain in the People’s Republic of China. They reinvented the brand (it’s called Food Republic) and expanded from the PRC to other Asian countries. With emphasis on basic food quality at affordable prices, a casual dining ambience and strong thematic concepts, Food Republic’s interesting angle is to bring the best of local hawker and street food under one roof.
What they do is to partner with small family-owned street vendors who can then leverage BreadTalk to spread their signature dishes across the chain.
For example, back in 1965, Cho Kee Noodle started selling wanton noodles as a family business. From a push cart food stall, Cho Kee Noodle dishes are now prepared in a central kitchen but stick to the basic recipes that people loved from the food cart.
Another food stall is called Soup Guru, whose chef makes unique soup recipes. There’s also the Wee Nam Kee Hainanese Chicken Rice famed for its “succulent steamed and roasted chicken rice.”
Their Icing Room business combines an online site where you can design you own cakes for delivery or pick-up with locations where families can come to create their own cakes together. For example, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and of course birthdays are used as event to trigger store traffic.
What is most striking about the organization, is how much the pure celebration of simple but good food comes through in everything they do. Even the humble toast and coffee is taken to a new level at their Toast Box chain (Toast of the Town) with a great coffee-culture environment and baked goods served in ways that make you a believer in carbs again. Just a plain, thick-sliced toast covered in their peanut butter recipe will convert anyone.