A new business: Its cafe is performing better than expectations.
IT STARTED out as a platform to showcase the company’s ability, but the launch of Foremula last year has given Forefront International chief executive officer Darien Mah a possible new revenue stream.
The cafe, tucked in a corner in Ara Damansara, Selangor, a few doors down from its office, is a display of Forefront’s fledgling interior design prowess. Mah wanted it to be an example of the quality of work that the creative agency could produce.
He hired an experienced chef and a manager to drive the business.
“Before this, they have run successful cafes in other places,” he says.
Foremula mainly serves the employees of Forefront and its clients.
“This was something we did for branding because when our customers come, they can see what we are capable of doing. It shows quality, it shows that when we want to do business, we can do it at this level,” he says.
However, Foremula has outperformed Mah’s expectations. It has gotten good reviews, he notes. Its buttermilk chicken has even made it into some ranking for chicken chop dishes in the Klang Valley, he adds.
But more than that, the cafe is also doing good business. Its customer base has grown beyond just Forefront’s network and has been drawing in casual diners.
Now, Mah is mulling expanding the cafe business. After all, it has acquired the capability to run a F&B outlet – the whole set-up of the cafe was done in-house.
The possibility of adding on more branches to its cafe business is on the horizon.
“We went into the cafe business for branding purposes only. But right now, I find that it is actually quite a viable business. It could potentially grow into a different line of business altogether,” he shares.
But the F&B industry is a different ball game altogether. It is a competitive space to be in. Eateries have come and gone and the industry has, likewise, seen food trends come and go.
If Forefront really does go into the F&B business in a big way, Mah believes it could be a potential division that could help buoy the growth of the group.
While it is still early days yet to see if its cafe indeed has a sustainable formula, it could spell a significant diversification for Forefront should its F&B business take off.
And Mah, for one, doesn’t seem to mind taking on this challenge of nurturing and growing a new business arm.