He Runs A F&B Empire That Made S$150M Revenue
In 1985, Tan Kim Siong, then 15, dropped out of school to work full time at a hawker stand.
Since the age of 13, he had been helping his grandmother in her Teochew fishball noodle shop, while also working as an assistant for other hawker stands.
These stints helped him land a full-time job in the kitchen at a fishball noodle shop in Bukit Batok in the mid-1980s.
In 1995, he started his own business with a rental booth in the peddling center outside the old National Library, which marks the start of the Fei Siong group.
The booth turned out to be a lucrative business, and it soon opened another outlet in Woodlands the following year.
Over the next five years, he opened a dozen outlets, bringing his brothers Tan Kim Beng and Tan Kim Leng into the business.
Kim Beng, 49, had dropped out of primary school, while Kim Leng, 44, was studying at Ngee Ann Polytechnic before deciding to drop out to join the Fei Siong group.
Together, the Kim brothers continuously developed into different brands and business models, transforming the Fei Siong Group into the successful F&B empire that it is today.
Nearly 15 brands under his leadership
From food stalls to cafes and hawking centers, the Fei Siong group has managed to expand into the management of food stores, specialty stores and food courts.
Some of the brands in the F&B empire include EAT, Encik Tan, and Ci Yuan Hawker Center.
The group operates a total of 157 outlets across Singapore and employs over 1,500 people.
According to an interview with the Straits Times, the group’s “biggest breakthrough” came with the launch of the 7,000 square foot Malaysia Boleh! in 2012.
Five years after it opened with great fanfare, the food court has grown to double the space, with 15 additional booths.
The latest addition to the Fei Siong Group’s brand repertoire is Boleh Boleh – Singapore’s largest pork-free food court.
Located at the Clementi Mall, the new food court features 28 stalls that range from the famous Claypot Chicken Rice of Petaling Street to the famous Chendol of Penang Road.
Giving back to society
In addition to leading the Fei Siong group, the three brothers regularly give back to the company.
When taxi drivers were hit hard by the circuit breaker last year, the Group announced a merger with NTUC and SMRT Taxis to provide free food delivery services.
As part of the deal, SMRT taxi drivers transported Fei Siong’s delivery assistants, for a fixed rate of S $ 20 per hour. The drivers were co-paid by Fei Siong and SMRT Taxis.
The group also regularly sponsors community initiatives. Last December, they donated S $ 5,000 in food stamps to around 140 families at the Singapore Muslim Women’s Association (PPIS) student health center.
Moreover, in 2015, Fei Siong started an entrepreneurship program aimed at preserving the food of local hawkers among the younger generation.
As part of the program, participants were trained to become hawkers with a monthly salary of S $ 3,000 for the first three months, before starting their own stalls.
According to a report from The New Paper, the program was so well received that it had to be put on hold due to the overwhelming response.
Succeed despite fierce competition
It’s no secret that the competition in Singapore’s F&B scene is extremely tough, as consumers have a wide variety of choices wherever they go.
Throughout their journey, Fei Siong Group also experienced some setbacks, such as the disappearance of its Chinese restaurant Royal London Duck and its Spanish restaurant La Cala.
Despite this, Fei Siong Group has managed to carve out a place for itself in the local F&B scene.
Over the past 25 years, the company has successfully grown from a humble fishball noodle stand to a restaurant business with nearly 15 brands.
Last year, the group achieved nearly $ 150 million in sales.
You must be hungry and not be afraid of hard work. You also have to treat people well. My staff is my family.
Group CEO Fei Siong, Tan Kim Siong in an interview with The Straits Times
Featured Image Credit: PressReader / Capitaland
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