In Focus
FRANCHISING | Staff Reporter, Singapore

Lessons Sumo Salad has learned in expanding to Singapore

QSR Media recently got together with Luke Baylis and Graham Streeter from Sumo Salad. They were up in Singapore to meet with their local partner Philip Kwek.

Kwek approached Sumo Salad about being a regional partner (he has the rights to Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia) after being a big fan of their Australian offering. Together they have opened up 3 outlets in Singapore, Raffles, Shenton Way and Somerset. As the world's number 1 Salad Bar (by outlet) they are now looking to dominate overseas markets including Singapore.

QSR Media: Why Singapore?
Baylis: We have looked at a few asian countries and Singapore seemed the best country to start. HK for example has more challanges that meet the eye. We also found a good local partner, Philip Kwek.

QSR Media: What are your plans for Singapore and the region
Kwek: We see a lot of potential, however at this stage we are adopting a strategy of "creeping slowly". Our ambition is to grow to about 10 stores initially and see where we go from there, 20 would not be unreasonable though. After this we may look at other countries such as Malaysia & Indonesia where I have strong contacts.

QSR Media: What are the occupancy costs like compared to Australia?
Streeter: They are a lot higher, this has forced us to take out a much smaller footprint, about 50% less than in Australia. The site in Shenton Way for example is 302 square feet. This has worked to our advantage, Singapore being a small island state lends itself to the centralised kitchen model so not much food prepping needs to take place in store. Based on this model our returns are significantly improved.

QSR Media: What differences are you noting between the 2 countries?
Kwek: At this stage it is too early to say definately. We have a mix of different sites, the Raffles site for instance does not have any tables, so is a purely takeaway propositon
Baylis: However an early observation would be that there is a more even, 50 50, gender split amongst patrons.

QSR Media: Have you had to make any changes to your menu?
Kwek: No, we have imported the concept and menu directly from Australia.
Baylis: A lot of our menu had Asian inspired cuisine so there was no need to initially change the offering. We do have a mechanism to track customer reactions and suggestions so based on this we may change some of the offerings slightly at some point in the future.

QSR Media: How are you promoting Sumo Salad to the Singapore market?
Kwek: We have a local PR firm who is doing some marketing and promotion with key media, flyer distribution etc. Our emphasis is being Australian and also the No. 1 salad bar globally.

QSR Media: What are your long term goals for the brand?
Kwek: At this stage we are focussed on getting a good retail presence in Singapore. A larger market share in Singapore and beyond would be the long term plan 

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