August 11, 2008

Food Court Operator Works Up Appetite for Expansion

By Hamisah Hamid

WESRIA Food Sdn Bhd, a Bumiputera food court management company, plans to strengthen its foothold in the country before expanding abroad.

The company, which claims to be the biggest local food court operator in malls, is eyeing food court management at local public universities.

"(A) proper food court with systematic food court management at universities would allow undergraduates in various courses to do practical training," founder and managing director Mohd Taib Ali told Business Times in an interview in Kuala Lumpur recently.

Mohd Taib, who comes from a finance background, decided to venture into the business after observing food courts at shopping malls when travelling abroad.

He founded Wesria in 1999 to start food court management business and food court consultancy works. Today, it is successfully consulting and managing more than 10 large-scale food court projects of local and international standards.

Wesria manages food courts under the brand name Rasa. Mohd Taib said that food court management in shopping malls in Malaysia is currently controlled by Singapore-based corporations, while most of local players are concentrated at smaller food courts at shop lots.

Wesria is involved right from the start. It conceptualises and plans the food court floor, kitchen lay-out, themes and design, apart from running day-to-day operations.

The company also does the construction and fittings where it puts in place equipment and furniture, point of sales and CCTV system management. It even provides safety and hygenic training and halal certification.

"We provide everything to the tenants, they just come and sell," he said.

He said Wesria takes care of the utility bills, menu guide and provides cleaning staff, automatic dish-washer, electronic cash register system, CCTV, security system as well as uniforms, cutleries, plates, bowls, serviettes and kitchen equipment.

As for the tenants, he said the company selects the best in the market and ensure that there is no duplication.

"If we know that street hawkers have good food to offer, we will invite them to operate from our food court," he said.

Today, Wesria - with an authorised capital of RM1 million and paid-up capital of RM700,000 - is clocking about RM24 million in revenue a year.

Mohd Taib said Wesria's first project was the food court on level 4 of Suria KLCC.

After buying the food court tenancy from the previous management, Wesria managed to turn it around within seven months.

"The average sales improved from RM400,000 a month to the current average of RM1.4 million a month," he said.

The company's second project, undertaken four years ago, is the food court in Alamanda shopping centre in Putrajaya.

Mohd Taib said Wesria invested RM4.5 million in the food court in Suria KLCC and another RM3 million in the food court in Alamanda.

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