Tim Ho Wan founder blames Malaysian culture for lack of customers

The founder of recently shuttered dim sum chain Tim Ho Wan, Mak Kwai-Pui reportedly told media outlets in Hong Kong that it closed its Malaysian business as a result of “challenging business prospects”, and because majority of Malaysian population is Muslim and as such, do not eat pork. He said for this reason, the outlets saw heavy losses and did not have enough customers.

Mak’s comment has angered and triggered discussion among Malaysian Chinese with some taking their comments online. Many called Mak irresponsible for blaming the Muslim culture over its business failure, as dim sum remains a popular dish in Malaysia among the local Chinese.

Some of Tim Ho Wan’s Malaysian customers pointed out that some of the restaurant’s mistakes could include a lack of understanding of the local taste and steep prices. The chain was said to have long queue of patrons lining up when it first opened, but the popularity declined overtime.

On this matter, Malaysian Chinese reporter Wan Qing also voiced out her opinion in an interview, saying: “Sorry Mr Mak, you are wrong. Tim Ho Wan failed because you overestimated the power of your brand. Whether you have a Michelin star or not, it’s merely a promise. Yes, it opens doors for curious consumers or loyal fans to try, but you have to ultimately deliver value to consumers.”

“I have been to your outlet twice, both to great disappointment. The food was hardly exciting, and the pricing was certainly not worth it. Please don’t make smoke screen comments that are irresponsible in your attempt to save face. Many non-halal dim sum restaurants in Malaysia are thriving!” she added.

On Facebook, one netizen commented: “So many non-halal restaurants are thriving. It’s all about quality of food, quality, taste and value for money.” Another added, “The Non-halal restaurants here are doing really well, without the patronage from the Muslims. I was shocked when I saw his (Mak) statement.”

Dim Sum Delight, which operates the Tim Ho Wan brand in Malaysia, has ceased operations in the country, as of 3 July 2017.  A Bursa filing by Texchem Resources, which owns 51% of the Dim Sum Delight, said the latter incurred RM895,642 in losses for the year, and it was not expected to turn the business around in the near future.

It added that the costs associated with the closure are also unable to be assessed, with shareholders agreeing that the restaurants should cease its business operation to minimise losses. Tim Ho Wan first opened in Malaysia in April 2014 and its two outlets in the country are located at One Utama and another in Mid Valley shopping mall.

After the sudden closure of two Tim Ho Wan outlets, Korean BBQ chain Bulgogi Brothers also announced on Facebook that it has ceased operations in Malaysia.

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