The prospects for the food catering business in Penang, currently estimated to be worth RM876mil and growing at about 5% a year, has attracted Leong Shir Mein and her business partners to set up DeliverEat, a food delivery company based on the island.
Presently, the estimated demand on a daily basis for food catering is said to total about RM2.4mil.
“This is based on 30% of Penang’s population, which is 1.6 million, who require food catering services with access to the Internet to place orders.
“This means some 480,000 will need for their food to be catered and delivered. If everyone were to spend RM5 per meal, the total daily revenue is about RM2.4mil,” Leong explained.
She says the food catering business is growing, as there are many offices without in-house canteens.
“For these premises, the workers rather have their lunch delivered, as lunch hour maybe too short a time for them to eat out.
“There are also families with little time to prepare meals and elderly people who do not have transportation, who require food delivery services.
“We are also targeting to deliver for corporate functions and parties,” she said.
Unlike the other food catering business in Penang, DeliverEat specialises in the delivery aspect.
“DeliverEat currently delivers food from 14 restaurants and fast food outlets in Penang.
“Our niche is in ensuring that the food ordered reaches the customers within an hour from the time they placed orders via our website.
“Customers can track the status of their orders by logging on their order identification code at our website,” she said.
Leong said when the company started out last year, the number of daily orders for the lunch hour alone was around 15, as the focus then was largely the workers in offices and factories .
“Each order is around RM70, which serves four to five people.We are looking now to double the orders during the lunch hour, as our coverage has widened to include residential premises,” she added.
Leong said that by focusing on deliveries, the company could provide a variety of cuisines available in the market.
“We currently deliver food, beverages, and desserts from Japanese, Chinese, and Western food restaurant.
“For example, Chatime, Sushi King, New York Pizza, Secret Recipe, Xuan Feng and Tsuruya are among the restaurants that we provide delivery services for.
“The mostly comprise the workforce in factories and offices in the Free Industrial Zone and residential homes,” he said.
Leong said there are many food outlets that want to tap a wider market but are unable to because they do not have a delivery team.
“Our strategy is to get more restaurants and food outlets that provide different cuisines to appoint us as the delivery agent. For restaurants with a delivery team, our strategy is to secure orders from our customers for them,” she added.
When restaurants engage the services of DeliverEat, they save on investments for delivery services, which could require an initial investment of a significant sum if it includes wages and vehicles.
“There is also the cost of advertising the delivery services in the media,” she said.
DeliverEat was established a year ago with a RM150,000 conditional grant from Cradle Fund Sdn Bhd, an agency under the Finance Ministry.
“The initial investment for the company was about RM200,000. We are targeting to generate RM720,000 over the next 12 months, based on commission from the food outlets for our delivery services,” Leong said.
“When we first started, our focus was the Free Industrial Zone (FIZ) in Bayan Lepas, as it is populated by multi-national corporations (MNCs) and has the highest percentage of employed persons by industry.
“Now we are widening our coverage to other parts of Penang. We plan also to provide delivery services for restaurants in other northern states,” she said.
Besides Leong, the company’s other partners are Tan Suan Sear, business development manager, Choong Yee Kee, IT manager, and Melody Yeoh, a shareholder.