Focus Point eyes break even for F&B business this year

PETALING JAYA: ACE Market-listed optical group Focus Point Holdings Bhd, aims to break even its food and beverage (F&B) business this year to push the group to greater sustainability in line with its goal to transition to the Main Market in the future.

President and CEO Datuk Liaw Choon Liang said the optical business, which is Focus Point's core business, makes up 80% of its revenue contribution while the remaining 20% is from its F&B business, that was started three years ago.

The group's homegrown Komugi bakery cafe has eight stores in Malaysia and two outlets in the Philippines (Kumori). It also operates three other Japanese restaurants namely Minori (high end Japanese cuisine) and Inaho (casual Japanese dining).

"If we start (expanding Komugi to) other countries this year and expand and improve local operations, hopefully we're looking at breaking even (F&B business) this year," Liaw told SunBiz in an interview recently.

He said in the last two years, the group's profit was impacted by its F&B business due to the large initial investment.
"This brand (Komugi) is new and we invested a lot for branding, marketing, advertising so our F&B is currently negative (registering losses) to the group. But we felt that there's potential and that's why we have to continue to focus on this," said Liaw.

He added that to transition to the Main Market, it needs to see its F&B business break even first.

"The major challenge is the F&B (business). We need to reshuffle the F&B so it won't eat up the profit. In fact the optical business already meets the requirement. We're quite consistent with optical and our profit and sales are still strong."

Liaw said it is in talks with representatives from Indonesia, Arab, Bangladesh and Singapore to represent the Komugi brand there. Locally, it is looking to open in Kuching and Johor Baru.

"Many countries have approached us to bring Komugi to their countries. Compared with Focus Point, for the past 20 years, I hardly see anyone from overseas knock on our doors interested to bring it abroad. It's very different," said Liaw.

He said the group has been in the retail optical business for the past 15 years and to bring the franchise overseas is not easy. He said even investing in its optical business overseas will be a high risk, as the optical business is generic and there are strong players in the overseas markets.

"We have good networking and relationship with shopping malls and have good experience in optical business in terms of franchise, which we have been doing since 2000. The same goes for F&B, we're implementing a franchise (model)," said Liaw, adding that it is charging a franchise fee of US$500,000 for one country (master franchise) for a 10-year contract and a 6% monthly royalty fee.

Meanwhile, on the optical business, it plans to open 15 outlets in the country this year, the same number of outlets it opened last year, with an average investment of RM600,000 per outlet. Today it has 175 outlets in Malaysia and seven outlets in Brunei.

"Every year we target (to open) 12 to 15 outlets but we also relocate two to three non-performing outlets. Majority of the outlets will be Focus Point but it will also include new concepts like Whoosh."

It recently launched Whoosh, a new concept outlet selling budget eyewear at under RM250, mainly targeting young people and focusing on fast moving fashion eyewear. Liaw said the group plans to open more of this concept outlet.

Besides Focus Point, which is a family-oriented optical store, it has other brands of outlets like Opulence for luxurious eyewear brands, Solariz that centres on sunglasses kiosk, Excelview specialising in professional eye care and Optical City, a one-stop solution for eye care and eyewear products.

"Optical is still our core business and all these different brands and concept is to cater to different market segments," said Liaw, adding that Focus Point has a 15% share of the optical market in Malaysia and is the largest in terms of numbers, outlets and sales revenue.