Jul 1, 2015
What happens when a well-loved Singaporean brand becomes the franchisor of a beloved Japanese cream puff? Jesher Loi,Director, Branding & Marketing Development, Ya Kun International Pte Ltd, tells us more.
The Ya Kun kaya toast you have today is almost the same as what we had in the past – the same kaya toast, bread, butter, and the same suppliers as well. Interestingly, even though people want new menus and innovation, they will keep going back to the good old kaya toast and kopi. Some of our customers even have the same cup of coffee done the same way everyday.
Ya Kun Kaya Toast may not seem to have much in common with Japanese cream puff brand Beard Papa. Yet we became the master franchiser of Beard Papa in Singapore because we felt that both companies share similar roots in their philosophies and principles. We view heritage as a key component in keeping with our values, use excellent ingredients, and innovate while not deviating from our core product. By being Beard Papa’s master franchiser, there is room for our businesses to expand and build on each other. That said, we remain two separate entities – there is synergy in going forward together but there is also strength in standing alone.
I put a very high value on working hands-on at the stores, and have done so myself. Our staff spends a week or two in an outlet because that is the bread and butter of our trade. In that vein, I went to Japan with some team members for our first round of training in Beard Papa. Once we opened in Singapore, I manned the store from time to time because I believe that one cannot just look at the numbers in a food business. It is by working and preparing on the ground that you really understand the trade.
I love Japanese food because it is so tasteful and flavourful, yet you don’t go away feeling too full or heavy. Beard Papa’s delectable kaya cream puff is the simplest manifestation of our brands’ cooperation. It was a Japanese invention meant to incorporate a uniquely Singaporean flavour into their menu. They found Ya Kun as they were looking for the best kaya, and conducted research and development even before our companies’ joint venture.
Beard Papa aims to constantly create new and exciting flavours on a steady rotation for the public. We will have seasonal flavours, like fruity ones or heritage Japanese flavours, to bring our customers a taste of Japan. I love how the puffs are a light and healthy way of getting a whiff of Japan. That’s what we are looking for.
As the grandson of Ya Kun’s founder, Jesher has always liked the taste of kaya from the day he first tried it. Some of his fondest childhood memories involve visiting the Ya Kun at Lau Pa Sat and being treated to kaya toast and Milo Peng. A frequent visitor of Japan, he admires not just the cuisine’s flavours but also its attention to detail.
For a full list of Ya Kun Kaya Toast locations, visit http://yakun.com/find-us/
For more information on Beard Papa, visit https://www.facebook.com/BeardPapaSingapore
TEXT SHARIFAH NURSYAFIQAH PHOTOGRAPHY LIEW JIA JUN