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EXECUTIVE INSIGHTS | Staff Reporter, Australia
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Find out more about the F&B opportunities in the Asian region at the QSR Media Conference 2018

Steen Puggaard says most Asian countries are the inverse of Australia in several respects.

"Many new and emerging markets are undersaturated with regard to branded food options and labour is much cheaper than Australia," says 4FINGERS CEO Steen Puggaard. Real-estate is becoming more expensive and the legal terms and commercial terms offered by main landlords are often egregious.

"Space efficiency is critically important, due to the cost of rent. Also, strong systems and internal processes are essential to ensure consistency, and brand/offer relevance should be assessed soberly since most Asian countries consume a lot of chicken and not much beef," he adds.

You can hear Steen speak about the real-estate market from the point of view of an owner-operator at the QSR Media Detpak Conference and Awards to be held in Sydney on June 13, 2018.

According to Puggaard, the most important thing when expanding overseas is to take the time to get the business model and unit economics right before scaling up. Most Asian markets are the inverse of Australia - affordable labour but expensive rent.

In disrupting a crowded market like Singapore, Puggaard says, "Most consumer spending in Singapore takes place in shopping malls. Singapore is an increasingly tough market to enter due to growing oversupply of F&B space in malls, which clashes with the government's policy present work force. The turnover rate (number of F&B outlets closing each year) is 28%. Delivery is growing very fast, so that also needs to be a major consideration. So, I would not necessarily consider Singapore as the only starting point for Asia expansion for Australian F&B brands."

Puggaard believes in always putting the customer first and has a fascination with the F&B industry and the unique abundance of opportunities it represents - more than any other industry - to serve customers every day. Importantly he sees a need to continuously disrupt and challenge the status quo in order to ensure that brands to stay relevant to consumers.

He has played a key role in the launch of McDonald’s in several countries and introduced Costa Coffee in Singapore. A resident of Singapore since 1999, Steen brings with him over 20 years of experience. Prior to joining 4FINGERS, his international roles included well-known F&B corporations and mass-market brands like McDonald’s, Burger King and Disney as well as one of Singapore’s leading restaurant mid-market and fine dining operators, The Les Amis Group. Puggaard has held the position of CEO of 4FINGERS since February 2013 and has grown the business from one to 21 stores in Singapore as well as overseeing the launch of 4FINGERS in Malaysia and Australia. He also won the management excellence award in the food & beverage category in the Singapore Business Review's Management Excellence Awards 2017.

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