Saturday, April 18, 2009

Something extra is brewing at Han’s


It aims to open two new outlets and invest in training and upgrading equipment


Valarie Tan,

090415-Hans Han’s managing director Han Choon Fook hopes to raise the standard further. Wee Teck Hian


DESPITE the recession, something’s brewing at Han’s Cafe and Cake House.

The 28-year-old chain is investing over $900,000 to expand its operations. This includes new gourmet coffee machines for its 21 outlets across Singapore.

Mr Han Choon Fook, Han’s managing director, said: “We’re hoping that if we can raise the standard further, we can one day make gourmet coffee a strong beverage in Han’s.”

It already sells about 3 million cuppas each year.

The chain said the recession has not significantly affected business so far, but its management warned turnover could fall by about 5-to-10 per cent should the economic situation worsens.

In the meantime, it is tapping on government subsidies to seize new opportunities, including upgrading staff skills.

It is taking advantage of subsidies from the Workforce Development Authority and SPRING Singapore to engage consultants for in-house customer service training for some 300 frontline staff.

Its courses, conducted in two phases, will cost the firm about $300,000. Training started even before the recession kicked in late last year.

“We know that in the competitive market we have got to raise our standards,” said Mr Han.

To maintain staff morale, the company plans to pass on to its workers money it receives under the Jobs Credit Scheme.

Under this scheme, the Government is providing cash grants to employers to help them preserve jobs by subsidising their manpower costs.

Employers are receiving a 12 per cent cash grant on the first $2,500 of each month’s wages for each employee on their CPF payroll. Few firms have been passing this on.

Han’s business is growing organically with plans to open two new outlets by May, each costing about $250,000. A new outlet in Buona Vista will open by the end of April and another in Jurong in May.

Its main challenge right now is finding young, qualified Singaporeans to fill frontline and operations positions. Even though half of its current 360-strong workforce are from overseas, Han’s hopes the government can be more flexible to allow them to hire more in the future.

Han’s annual turnover grew 16 per cent last year to $28 million.

It is no stranger to recessions, having survived the Sars crisis in 2003 when it saw turnover fall by about 10 per cent.

Looking into the future, it is working on new concepts to reach out to a younger market to cater to younger people’s food and drink tastes.

It is also not ruling out expanding into overseas markets, like China and Vietnam. Han’s has sent officers to franchising exhibitions to further explore the idea.


From TODAY, Enterprise – Wednesday, 15-April-2009


Post a Comment