Tag Archives: Business

McDonald’s Ipoh City Centre closing in November

McDonald's Ipoh City Centre
McDonald’s Ipoh City Centre
Actually I first heard about this outlet, located opposite of Super Kinta (now UTC), closing last year, from someone who owns McDonald’s in Ipoh. I was taken aback by the news at the time, considering that it was the first McDonald’s in Ipoh, somewhat iconic, and probably meant a lot to many who used to hang out there after school since the late 80’s. I remember asking for donations around that area for my school. And it was a luxury to be able to afford eating in McDonald’s. Not so much happy memories, but they are memories of my past nevertheless..

So they are finally closing up shop next month. And it is the second McDonald’s to close shop after the one in AEON Kinta City last July. Again they are in favour of 24 hours drive-thru model, more profitable. Especially for this outlet since this part of town is not as busy as it used to be. So it’s good bye to this McDonald’s outlet then.

When you are not on the corporate ladder anymore

It’s been over three years now since I stopped climbing the corporate ladder. To be honest I really don’t miss working in a big corporate environment. The pressure to perform just gets more and more intense as you are more and more senior in the company. And I am not one who will always try to seek opportunity to be visible infront of senior management. Hence life gets depressing during appraisal when boss then tries to play down your contribution, because visibility infront of senior management is important in order to justify a glowing review of performance.

Now that I run my business, whilst there is a whole new dimension of stress that comes with it, at least the peer pressure and expectation from bosses are off for me. I need to worry about money (cash flow) a lot more, but at least I do not need to appear like I am intentionally stepping on others to climb up the corporate ladder. That is one aspect I do not like, as I prefer relationship with my colleagues to be less competitive in nature. And I stop worrying about how much I earn (salary) compare to my peers nowadays, because I have taken a very different path. I owe the bank a lot of money (corporate debt) with a business, and income (profit) is a lot more variable when compared to a fixed salary job. But in a way I think I am happier because I don’t need to get stressed out as much going to work with some insufferable colleagues always looking to impress.

Okay I also need to throw in more time running a business, and it can be exhausting too, so I am heading for a rest now. Goodnight!

Boston De Garden has closed shop

Boston De Garden
Another F&B business bites the dust at De Garden. Boston is one of the earliest tenants there. Apparently they stopped doing business since 1st June 2016. It seems that they are a franchise business, because another opened in M-Mall Penang earlier this year. Hence this leaves Daorae as the longest surviving F&B business at De Garden.

Interestingly the furnishing in Boston remains intact. I wonder if they are left there to part settle rental with De Garden? Or maybe there is some arrangements agreed with De Garden to sell on their goodies to the next F&B business? The ground floor of that part of De Garden now has no more F&B outlet. Chatime, Aliyaa and now Boston have vacated. It is tough to keep an F&B business going in Ipoh.

AEON Kinta City’s makeover

Now that we know that AEON Kinta City is not packing up as once feared, I’m sure the Ipoh folks are curious what is in the pipeline at the end of the current makeover effort.

Exterior wise apparently they want to bring the appearance of the shopping mall to be more inline with the rest of AEONs around the country. They are also adding awnings to the ground level shops/restaurants, presumably to provide a more appealing look and feel from the outside too?

Inside, this row of shops/F&B outlets are undergoing renovation.
F&B outlets AEON Kinta City
So like I said in one of my earlier post, the ground floor is going to be populated by F&B outlets. But it is not known what outlets will occupy them, apart from the existing names like Sushi King and Johny. And they will be ready in August, which is only 2 months away. I’m sceptical.

Following that, they will renovate the shop lots upstairs. There I really couldn’t care less, as I seldom buy things these days anyway. I do however genuinely hope some decent F&B outlets move in to the ground floor space.

Pitfalls in opening a cafe in Ipoh

Upmarket cafes were very hot in Ipoh for a while 2-3 years ago. Cafes mushroomed almost everywhere out of a sudden. Many were tastefully decorated, quaint looking, cosy, with every one of them seemingly trying to outdo one another. Some have “unique” selling points, like offering self made bread, pastry, high speed Internet connectivity etc. But the fever has died down a little lately, to me anyway. Here is an article that offered some insight into what it is like to run a cafe business in Ipoh.

Some of the business owners are fairly honest when asked about the challenges facing them when running their businesses in Ipoh. Some seemed to either just put on a brave face or they didn’t know where they failed, if I’m being honest. I’ll let you figure out who was or were talking rubbish. But I would agree on the following points for the Ipoh market:

  1. Competition from the popular white coffee, both taste and price
  2. Standalone coffee enjoyment without main meals not so popular here
  3. Appettite for western coffee is there, but market is not big enough to sustain so many cafes

I have no problem with the price points of their coffee. They are their premium offerings, and should rightly charged as they are. But I have a lot of issue with the price points of their other offerings, like desserts, light bites (sandwiches included) and even main meals! They are deluded, thinking that the Ipoh folks earn as much as those in KL and Penang. In fact if I go to KL, I get better (much better) value for money, on both coffee and food! Incredible isn’t it? But it is!

Basically, your business needs to survive and sustain in such competitive environment first, with so many cafes around, and price reasonably. Lower your cost and overhead, target the right audience and offer value to these customers. Ipoh folks always like good bargains, and they will come back to you if you offer them good value. Tourists business is good, but it is often one-off, and there are not that many tourists coming to Ipoh. Businesses in Ipoh need to first and foremost focus on the locals. Otherwise it will be the same old story. You have been warned.

Massimo bread price increase from 4th April 2016

Just received a notice from The Italian Baker that they will be adjusting the prices of their bread from 4th April 2016 onwards. They have been absorbing the 6% GST since April last year when GST went live. There was confusion initially I think because they thought their bread are zero rated. Turned out that not all bread are zero rated.

So from 4th April onwards, a loaf of Massimo Sandwich with wheat germ will retail at RM2.65 (small) and RM3.70 (long), an increase of 15 cents and 20 cents respectively.

Massimo bread new prices

Can’t blame them, flour subsidies from the government have been cut lately too. Just more misery for the commoners…

Peugeot at De Garden has relocated

Peugeot De Garden
Peugeot at De Garden has relocated to Jalan Tun Razak, according to a small paper notice they placed on the entrance door of the shop there. Apparently they have moved already on the 1st March. No wonder there is no more Peugeot cars parking outside their shop anymore. This means many more parking spaces at De Garden, which is good 😉

Lately there were more and more car shops along the north end of Jalan Sultan Azlan Shah. Mazda, Proton, followed by Peugeot, VW and Renault. Interestingly Peugeot decided to relocate after just a year and a half.

Business picking up again?

Our business just managed to beat the first week of March last year in terms of revenue. Business has not been great, starting from second half of last year, if we compare revenue year-on-year. But interestingly business seems to be picking up again in March.

Just heard from a supplier that Up & Up Restaurant in Ipoh Garden East is losing money. We have dined there twice, I think, within the first two or three months after they open business. They had a good crowd on both times we were there. But apparently business has slipped since. Their overhead is high, with lots of workers (over 20 of them?). Probably inevitable in restaurant business. It is difficult to gauge when you are going to have lots of hungry customers turned up on your door steps.

Anyway it is most important for our business to stay in the black, and maintain a healthy cash flow, at least until the economy turns the corner. If we can do just that then our business is definitely here to stay.

Something’s Brewing has closed shop

Something’s Brewing opposite Festival Walk
Saw on Facebook that this cafe has packed up shop after Chinese New Year, and the owner is trying to sell off various things in the shop, if not the business itself. Was initially interested in the coffee machine and the deep freezers. But I don’t suppose these are absolute necessities for our business at the moment so I would rather keep our cash. In difficult times like this cash is king. In fact I am thinking of raising some working capital for our business. But need to get our second year financial account audited and filed first. Without at least two years financial history the banks won’t look at our application.

Back to Something’s Brewing. It is a cafe that serves various types of tea, e.g. fruit tea. I haven’t been there before, but it is similar to the one in De Garden, Tea & Tattle. In fact Tea & Tattle is a result of a business partnership break up in Something’s Brewing some time ago. I’m not sure if I enjoy drinking such tea, as I’m more the traditional black tea with milk type of drinker. It is hard to tell whether Something’s Brewing would survive if there is not a Tea & Tattle that tries to compete for the same pie. It is a niche market, which is fine. But it does look like the market is so small that it can’t sustain both cafes. We’ll see if Tea & Tattle can survive in the long run. They do have a unique offering, I think, but customer base takes a long time to build. Unlike coffee drinking which is heavily marketed around the world, fruit tea is relatively unknown here. If you haven’t a big marketing budget then you can only build your market up organically. And you need to prepare yourself for competition. And that is not just from potentially new tea drinking cafes… It is a tough business. It really baffles me why so many entrepreneurs still try to get into the cafe business.

Jaya Grocer is opening on 30th January

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Jaya Grocer

Jaya Grocer is about to open in a couple of days time on the 30th January 2016. Hurrah! Have to go find out what range of items they stock there one day. At the moment all supermarkets are full of people stocking up for Chinese New Year, so definitely won’t be going there on their opening day.

Updated 31/1/2016:
And so we went on the second day, on a Sunday 🙂 It was difficult to find a parking space in Ipoh Parade. Anyway it is a well lit well arranged supermarket, probably typical of Jaya Grocer. But not overly impressed with the range of products on the shelves. Bought ourselves some vegetarian sausages and burgers, and yam which is apparently very cheap at RM6.50 a kilo.

Jaya Grocer
Jaya Grocer