How Jumbo Group Grew With Abroad Enlargement And A S$40M IPO

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When it comes to fresh and delicious seafood, JUMBO Seafood is one of the brands that immediately comes to mind.

The Singaporean brand was founded by a group of friends “for the love of food and seafood” and has since expanded to the Southeast Asian region.

The well-known name is frequented by important personalities, foreign celebrities and tourists who often plan their trips to Jumbo as part of their travel routes.

We speak to their Group CEO and Executive Director Ang Kiam Meng to learn how they have expanded to 37 branches in 15 cities over the past 30 years.

Anchoring at the East Coast Seafood Center

East Coast Seafood Center / Photo credit: The Wacky Duo

The fish chain started as an outlet in the East Coast Seafood Center in 1987.

It soon gained a loyal following and gained a reputation for serving only the freshest catch, with iconic dishes like the chili crab and black pepper crab on their menu.

Kiam Meng Jumbo SeafoodThe Kiam Meng / Photo credit: Jumbo Group

Ang, who is now 58 years old, currently heads the JUMBO group. After graduating, he worked as a software engineer and was later persuaded by his father to join the company in 1993.

His father, the founder of JUMBO Seafood, felt the company was ready to expand.

At this point, Ang also wanted to have a change in the environment and leave his comfort zone.

As the eldest son, he also felt he had the responsibility to take over the family business and take it to greater heights.

Jumbo quickly became profitable and popular. We have focused on delivering great food and service, and our reputation has grown.

– Ang Kiam Meng, Group CEO and Executive Director of the JUMBO Group, in an interview with Enterprise SG in 2017

Flopping on her first overseas company

Due to the national success and recognition of the competitiveness and limitation of the F&B market in Singapore, they made an attempt overseas and opened their first international restaurant in Indonesia in 1995.

However, it flopped due to their inexperience in opening offices overseas.

It was almost 20 years before JUMBO tried to expand overseas again – this time in Shanghai.

Jumbo Seafood in ShanghaiJumbo Seafood in Shanghai / Photo credit: NAHMJ.com

The second overseas outlet was opened in November 2013 and is a cooperation with the BreakTalk Group. The restaurant is located in the IAPM Mall in Huahai Zhong Lu, a shopping area popular with tourists.

Since BreadTalk has been in China for some time, Jumbo sought BreadTalk’s familiarity with China and the landlords’ help with the break-in in China.

In return, BreadTalk acquired a 30 percent stake in the joint venture.

In less than three years, the company opened three branches in Shanghai, which were well received by critics and customers alike.

(In China) we took a completely different approach. You know, bitten once, shy twice, so we were extremely careful.

When it comes to F&B, you have to be patient. If you get into it and don’t do your homework well, it will all go down the drain in less than six months.

– Ang Kiam Meng, Group CEO and Executive Director of the JUMBO Group, in an interview with Enterprise SG in 2017

They carried out extensive market research on the Chinese market and hired a consulting company.

The restaurant chain also turned to IE Singapore (now Enterprise Singapore) to help manage the complexities of the Chinese market and connect the company with local contacts.

To date, they have six branches across China, with one in each city in Beijing, Xi’An and Fuzhou.

Jumbo seafood in ThailandJumbo Seafood in Bangkok, Thailand / Photo credit: JUMBO Group

Subsequently, under Ang’s tenure, JUMBO ventured into other countries such as Vietnam, South Korea, Thailand and Taiwan.

Streamlining and Innovation

In order to achieve consistent food quality, a central kitchen for research and development (R&D) was set up in 2008.

The kitchen in Kaki Bukit covers an area of ​​10,000 square meters and enabled the group to reduce the work processes.

This helped the company innovate and implement a wider variety of kitchen creations to meet the changing needs of its guests.

Jumbos Chilli Crab DishJumbos Chili Crab Dish / Photo Credit: Chope

The centralized kitchen prepares the sauces and mixes for delivery to the various outlets across Singapore.

Having a central kitchen was also a critical success factor in ensuring the consistency of its flavors and in giving the company the ability to expand overseas through self-managed and franchise stores so that diners can enjoy the authentic flavors of JUMBO Seafood from around the world.

– Ang Kiam Meng, Group CEO and Executive Director of the JUMBO Group

A food technology consultant was brought in to ensure that the group’s famous dish, Chilli Crab, could be recreated at the group’s overseas office “without any loss of taste or texture” before the group expanded.

Through research and development in the central kitchen, the group also began selling its retail packaging for chili crab and black pepper crab paste to consumers.

Fishing awards

In October 2015, he also oversaw the company’s S $ 40 million IPO as the company wanted to expand and improve productivity in Shanghai.

The IPO was subscribed a total of about eight times as investors vied for a piece.

The company had offered 88.23 million shares to the public at a price of S $ 0.25 each.

Investors included Temasek Holdings unit Heliconia Capital Management and Osim International Chairman Ron Sim.

This showed that investors were positive about the brand and at the time it was thriving in China, opening their third jumbo outlet there.

According to Ang, the East Coast Seafood Center outlet is still the most iconic to this day as it is the first and also the flagship store in Singapore.

It’s a popular spot for locals and tourists as it overlooks the scenic views of our coastline.

Jumbo Seafood Riverside PointRiverside Point / Photo Credit: Designs from my coffee table

Other very popular outlets are Riverside Point and The Riverwalk in the Central Business District.

In the 2019 financial year, the group achieved sales of S $ 153.6 million and recorded an average annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5.8 percent from 2015 to 2019.

As proof of the brand’s formula for success, numerous awards and prizes have been awarded, including the Singapore Tatler’s Best Taste of Singapore Award 2020, the Superbrands 2019, Singapore’s Choice 2019, the CTRIP Food Awards 2018 and the TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence 2017.

Black pepper crab Photo credit: EverydayOnSales Singapore

Her signature Chilli Crab was also named “The Best Chilli Crab” by the Tiger Beer Chilli Crab Championship Series 2006 and “Best Seafood Dish” in the 2007 culinary competition of the Tasty Chef Restaurant Association of Singapore (RAS).

Immersion in other food concepts

The JUMBO Group acquired the local favorite NG AH SIO Bak Kut Teh in 2010 and expanded the traditional brand over the years.

Ng Ah Sio Bak Kut TehNg Ah Sio Bak Kut Teh / Photo credit: Inside Retail Asia

The brand currently has a total of four branches in Singapore, two branches in Taiwan and one branch in China.

Their impressive portfolio also includes Zui (醉) Teochew Cuisine – consisting of Chui Huay Lim Teochew Cuisine and Zui Yu Xuan Teochew Cuisine.

In June 2018, the JUMBO Group also brought the Hong Kong-style “Cha Chaan Teng” – Tsui Wah to Singapore. The first outlet is located at the popular Clarke Quay nightspot.

The second franchise store opened in September 2019 on the Heeren’s main shopping belt on Orchard Road.

Another addition to the family in 2019 is Chao Ting. The fast-casual dining concept is just around the corner from Zui Yu Xuan Teochew Cuisine and specializes in Teochew ‘Pao Fan’ – rice in a tasty broth, topped with crispy rice and fried egg floss.

They also opened the Hainan Chicken Rice XINYAO in 2019, which serves the legendary chicken rice in the One ITC Mall in Shanghai and offers Chinese guests the Singaporean favorites.

The JUMBO Group also manages the Singapore Seafood Republic, which brings popular seafood restaurants under one roof.

The group prides itself on being market driven and prefers to “invest time and effort exploring opportunities rather than“ feeling good ”.

Apparently, Ang and his team of chefs and managers were traveling around Guangzhou and Hong Kong and eating “three hotpot meals a day for a week” as part of market research when the JPOT hotpot restaurant concept was developed.

Unfortunately, the Singapore-style hotpot chain JPOT closed its last branch in April 2019.

Last month it was announced that the JUMBO Group is reportedly planning to acquire a 75 percent stake in the popular Kok Kee Wanton Noodle dumpling noodle stand for S $ 2.1 million in cash and shares.

The acquisition comes after Jumbo reported a net loss of approximately S $ 8.2 million on November 26 for the year ended September 30, in contrast to its net income of S $ 11.7 million last year.

In addition, revenue fell 36.5 percent from S $ 153.6 million in the previous year to S $ 97.6 million, mainly due to the effects of Covid-19.

Weathering COVID-19 and beyond

Ang acknowledged that COVID-19 has affected most companies in Singapore, particularly the F&B sector.

The group has also reviewed and implemented our growth strategy in order to capitalize on our strong brand presence and increase our wallet share in the local market through a tiered approach.

– Ang Kiam Meng, Group CEO and Executive Director of the JUMBO Group
Dim Sum Afternoon Tea Set from JUMBO SeafoodDim Sum Afternoon Tea Set by JUMBO Seafood / Image Credit: East Travel Recipes

This includes introducing new concepts targeting new segments and offering new products including introducing high tea concepts to extend sales hours.

The reception of business and leisure travelers, who traditionally form a loyal customer base for JUMBO Seafood restaurants, also remains weak due to the restrictive travel regulations.

Our new virtual brand HACK IT, whose debut is planned for December, is the result of our innovation efforts. an initiative to expand our customer pool with a different profile, using the same amount of resources that we currently have.

– Ang Kiam Meng, Group CEO and Executive Director of the JUMBO Group

HACK IT is the first virtual dining concept that delivers affordable, high quality, fresh seafood staples that are prepared in Southeast Asian sauces and can be enjoyed with family and friends in the comfort of their own home.

Ang reiterates that they will continue to innovate and introduce new concepts that thrive in the current landscape – ones that are wallet-friendly, suitable for home dining, the younger crowds and smaller families.

Last month, to make JUMBO more accessible to guests, they launched a four-course no-hassle chilli crab set lunch at an affordable price of S $ 29 ++ per person.

This is part of their strategy to intensify the focus on the local market while Singapore awaits Phase 3 of reopening and the return of tourists.

Selected image source: WE Summit / EY

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