FROM humble beginnings in 1977, Oversea Enterprise Bhd, owner and operator of Restoran Oversea has today become a recognisable name for Chinese cuisine. It’s next milestone – a listing on the ACE Market of Bursa Malaysia tentatively slated for end-March 2010.
Since then, however, the company has also diversified into the mooncake business, which had started off in 1986 and egg rolls since 1999.
It has seven fine dining Cantonese cuisine outlets nationwide – five in the Klang Valley and two in Ipoh. To complement its restaurant business, the company has also ventured into manufacturing baked products, and for this purpose, it has two manufacturing facilities in Shah Alam.
The mooncakes have been exported to Australia (53.2%), United States (27.7%), the Netherlands (2.5%), Indonesia (8.4%), New Zealand (6.5%) and Papua New Guinea (1.7%).
The company has also opened other food outlets to cater to different markets such as the Hong Kong-style cuisine café in Pandan Indah in 2004 and a dim sum outlet in Sri Petaling in 2005.
In terms of sales, the chain of Chinese restaurants, cafe operations, dim sum outlet, and mooncake manufacturing contributed 80%, 4%, 2% and 14% respectively in FY08.
The founder of the company and also its managing director and chief consultant is Yu Soo Chye, who is not surprisingly extremely passionate about cooking from the young age of 12.
This interest had formed the basis of the business that has grown by leaps and bounds. He later became a head chef for a restaurant.
Interestingly, although his father was a hawker from Ipoh, Yu was always more interested in fine-dining Chinese cuisine.
“When I first started as an apprentice chef, my teacher used to say that I was slow in learning. I had to resolve that by being hard working and very patient and thinking that one day ‘I will be successful’”, says Yu in an interview with StarBizWeek.
By 1982, Yu had taken the opportunity to expand his restaurant business to Ipoh. This was especially significant for Yu as Ipoh is his hometown.
Truth is, the restaurant chain has been planning the listing for two to three years, but was held back by the financial crisis. The timing is right now, says Yu, as the economy is on the mend.
“Our company is ready to take the next step to expand the business. We are listing to raise funds and to raise our company profile,” says Yu.
The company chalked up profits of RM2.4mil, RM3.7mil and RM5.9mil in 2006, 2007 and 2008 on the back of sales of RM58.8mil, RM60.3mil and RM62.8mil respectively.
Yu expects a marginal increase in revenue and better profits in financial year 2009.
Would the management style of the family-owned enterprise change post listing?
Yu says the company has been preparing for this over the past 8 years and is a professionally managed business.
“We are providing structured training for our staff and chefs which includes customer service, teamwork, leadership and building customer relationship,” he says.
Yu explains that the company’s main focus is to grow its existing core business rather than change its image.
The group is confident that given its competitive advantage – established brand name and reputation – it will be able to retain a larger clientele and attract new customers while being able to command higher pricing.
Also, the company believes that given its large operations base, it will be able to obtain better commercial terms from suppliers, including materials and ingredient costs, credit terms, logistics arrangement and others.
Yu points out that the Malaysian population is going to grow to 29 million in 2010, which marks an annual increase of 1.6%.
“This is also accompanied with a growing number of dual-income families which leads to less time for meal preparation resulting in higher frequency of dining out.”