Local restaurant chain Park Cafe unveils its ambitious business plan to open a total of 100 outlets nationwide by 2025.
This comes after the company completed its first journey in its business expansion strategy by offering franchises.Last week, it appointed a Thai-based financial advisory firm to help compile a transparent financial report, hoping that it will provide the mechanism to collect funds for business expansion.
Hor Kimsay of The Post spoke with Park Cafe general manager Heng Sengly to discuss his firm’s strategy for growth.
Park Cafe last week appointed APM (Cambodia) Securities as its financial advisory firm. How will this agreement with APM help your company?
APM (Cambodia) Securities is a financial advisory firm whose parent company is in Thailand. It has successfully helped many companies with financial reports and is listed at the Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET).
By appointing the firm as our financial advisor, APM will help to audit Park Cafe’s financial report to make it transparent and standardise it in accordance with the requirements of a stock-listed company.
What is your main purpose in doing so?
The firm will help us with financial transparency. Through transparency in our financial report, we can raise funds locally and internationally. Our purpose is to expand our business. We plan to expand our shops to 100 outlets by 2025.
To get there, we need extra funding. To be successful in receiving funding, we need to have a transparent financial report and good governance. So, having a skilful and expert financial advisor is very important.
When we are standardised, we have options to raise funds through many channels. We can go to the Cambodia Securities Exchange (CSX), either to list our shares or to issue bonds. We can also raise funds through equity firms or individual investors.
Who are the current investors behind Park Cafe?
Park Cafe was founded by a group of local business people and now has investments from a foreign company.
Emerging Markets Investments Pte Ltd (EMI), the investment firm that manages a Luxembourg-registered fund, The Cambodia-Laos Development Fund (CLDF), acquired a stake from our company, and now CLDF holds a 37.5 per cent stake in Park Cafe. The rest is owned by local investors.
How has Park Cafe grown since its opening until now? And how many shops have you expanded to?
In 2004 when Park Cafe was established, we had just one branch. But today we have 15, of which four outlets are franchises. We currently provide jobs to around 500 Cambodians. We will further expand our shops next year.
Our customer numbers have also been growing annually. Last year, we received about 1.5 million customers. This year, we expect that our customers will grow to nearly two million.
Why do you think investors should buy shares in your company and when will you raise funds?
Park Cafe is one of the most mature brands in the Cambodian food and beverage industry. We are a local brand that serves local food.Many might overlook our business potential, but compared to other restaurant chains, we are very competitive.
How often do people eat rice or noodles?
How many times do people eat pizza? Serving local food is our speciality. We serve food that people can eat every day. Aside from this, we have set up training centres to develop our human resources to be truly professional.
How do you foresee the future of the Cambodia food and beverage (F&B) market?
It will keep growing, parallel to the economic growth of Cambodia. The Kingdom’s per capita GDP has increased annually, with the number of middle-class citizens also growing. More malls and supermarkets will open and the mall investment will attract local and international F&B investors to come to the market.
As the market grows, more operators will enter, and this poses additional challenges and more risk for new investors that want to come in. New operators will need to know the market more clearly and be more skilful.
Another challenge is that when the industry grows rapidly, it faces a lack of human resources. Rental rates for shops are also increasing, which is a major challenge for us.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.