BreadTalk Group CEO exits, founder to take over

BreadTalk Group CEO Henry Chu Heng Hwee (pictured) will be resigning from his post come 31 December 2019. According to a SGX filing seen by Marketing, Chu is said to be stepping down due to personal and health reasons. In his two years as CEO, Chu was responsible for overseeing the company's global operations, focusing on strategic planning, investments, business development and regional expansion. Upon the resignation, the role and responsibilities of the group chief executive officer will be undertaken by founder and group executive chairman, George Quek Meng Tong.

This comes shortly after the homegrown bakery reported a 35.3% plunge in its first half net profit, from SG$3.6 million to SG$2.3 million. This was attributed to the amounting costs on distributing and selling, as well as administrative expenses by the Group. Overall, the company recorded a revenue of SG$321.0 million, an increase of 7.9% from SG$297.4 million in the first half of 2018.

With close to 1,000 retail stores spread across 16 countries, BreadTalk Group’s brand portfolio comprises direct owned brands such as BreadTalk, Toast Box, Food Republic, Bread Society, Thye Moh Chan, The Icing Room and partner brands such as Din Tai Fung, Nayuki, TaiGai, Sō Ramen, Song Fa Bak Kut Teh and Wu Pao Chun Bakery. Taking a closer look at its financials shows the bakery division revenue rising 2.8% year-on-year to SG$142.8 million, with the consolidation of revenue from the Thailand Bakery business following the acquisition of the 50% interest in BTM (Thailand) from Minor Food Group.

Meanwhile, its restaurant division revenue rose 14.0% year-on-year to SG$84.5 million for first half of FY2019, with the addition of four more outlets - Great World City, Marina Bay Sands and Jewel Changi Airport and Terminal 21 in Thailand. Despite the higher revenue, profit before tax for the period came in at SG$11.5 million, which was 12.6% lower year-on-year due to higher operating costs in Singapore and the United Kingdom operations not having turned profitable yet. In addition, the commencement of Song Fa Bak Kut Teh operations in Beijing, Guangzhou and Bangkok delivered a SG#13.2 million revenue for the 4oth division compared to SG$5.7 million in the same period last year.

According to the financials, the company will continue to focus its resources in the expansion of key markets and for its Food Atrium business to deepen its penetration in Mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Cambodia. The Restaurant Division will also be cautiously adding to its presence in Singapore and Thailand while managing the challenges in the United Kingdom.

In terms of expansion into overseas markets, BreadTalk's Song Fa Bak Kut Teh brand aims to open its first outlet in Taiwan in second half of the year, while fine-tuning the businesses within 4orth Division to improve overall profitability. Efforts to turnaround the Bakery business, particularly in China and Thailand remain underway, while the company looks to continue building on the strong performance of the business in Singapore.