Founded in April 2000, BreadTalk entered Singapore’s traditional bakery industry with a unique positioning: it was projected as a professionally run business; its stores were located in the major malls in central parts of Singapore; the kitchens were open plan so customers could see how the bread was made; and its products were a fusion of traditional bakery favourites with a modern twist.
BreadTalk prided itself on having a culture of “creative differentiation” – and strived to stay “fresh” by continuously changing and adapting to consumer demand, and “relevant” by offering localised and customised products with something for everyone.
To this end, the company launched a new range of products every six months in line with seasonal trends, social events, and festivals. For instance, BreadTalk outlets sold panda-shaped products to raise funds for the victims of the Sichuan earthquake and rocket-shaped products to celebrate China’s first astronaut in space.
Having established a robust brand at home – 20 thriving outlets in just two years – BreadTalk began to consider expanding its footprint to other countries in the region. In its first year alone, the company had received over 1,000 inquiries for franchising from firms in Singapore as well as other Southeast Asian countries.
Now, the BreadTalk Group is in 17 countries in Asia and the Middle East, operating nearly 1,000 stores in all with brands such as BreadTalk, Toast Box, Food Republic, Din Tai Fung and Song Fa Bak Kut Teh.
Reported by the Straits Times, BreadTalk Group will form a S$3 million joint venture with Japan’s largest rice wholesaler Shinmei Corp. The 115-year-old Kobe-based company, which is also Japan’s largest exporter of rice with a 30 per cent share, owns the Genki Sushi chain of conveyor belt sushi restaurants.
The joint venture firm, known as BTG-Shinmei Venture, will be incorporated in Singapore and begin operations next month. The BreadTalk Group holds a 66 per cent stake, while Shinmei owns the remaining 34 per cent, the two companies announced on Dec 22, 2017.
This is the BreadTalk Group’s first partnership with a trading company, and comes a year after the two firms began talks. With this venture, the group eyes cost savings for customers, entry into new markets such as the United States, Europe and Japan, as well as a new revenue stream in the selling of ingredients.
Shinmei owns a variety of businesses in rice and processed foods, seafood, fruits and vegetables, as well as in companies dealing with food logistics.
BTG-Shinmei Venture will then provide these products to the BreadTalk Group, which already uses premium Japanese ingredients, including Shinmei brand rice, but hopes to introduce more items that tap high quality produce grown by farmers in rural Japanese agricultural regions. These include Hokkaido, where Shinmei has a big footprint.
Beyond Shinmei’s strong presence in Japan, the company also hopes to leverage Shinmei’s presence to expand into the US market, where the Japanese firm opened a production facility in Sacramento, California, in 2015.
Source : The Straits Times | Singapore Business Review | International Enterprise Singapore