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The Olive Tree Group Eyes Domestic, Regional Expansion

KUALA LUMPUR: The Olive Tree Group is targeting expansive growth within Malaysia, with a strategic focus extending to regions like Sabah and Sarawak.

The Olive Tree Group founder and managing director Leslie Gomez said La Chicá and Rockefellers are the two brands under the group we are pushing for expansion.

In addition to domestic expansion, the company is also focusing on regional markets, aiming to establish its presence in Singapore, Dubai, and Australia.

“We opened our first Frangipaani outlet in Bali, Indonesia, earlier this year,” founder and managing director Leslie Gomez told The Exchange Asia.

Frangipaani serves North Indian cuisine.

Last month, The Olive Tree Group opened La Chicá in Jaya One, its second outlet for 2024.

This marks the fourth milestone in less than three years since its inception in October 2021 at Changkat Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur.

“La Chicá and Rockefellers are the two brands under the group we are pushing for expansion.

He emphasised that opening new outlets in Malaysia and the region requires several factors, namely the right location, places with much human traffic, and tourism spots.

“We have been in the business for over 20 years and are adapting to changes and the business landscape to follow current trends. We also maintain that ‘old-skool’ concept for younger consumers.

“We are also planning on introducing new concepts soon, but again, this will depend on the location, where there are lots of locals or tourists,” Leslie said.

He expressed optimism about the expanding prospects and demand within the F&B industry and said the company will continue to scout locations that align with its brand ethos to expand its footprint.

However, he sees the recent changes in SST as adding another layer of complexity to the financial landscape for F&B businesses.

“As taxes increase, consumer spending changes. Their spending diversifies. They look for value-for-money choices.

“The initial 6 per cent SST was good, as many Malaysians prefer dining out. Adding another two per cent we see as adding a bit of a burden on consumer spending power,” he told The Exchange Asia in an interview.

He said relevant government agencies must know that adapting to these tax adjustments requires a keen understanding of the implications for F&B operators and customers, influencing pricing structures and profit margins.

“When taxes change and raw material prices increase, we need to change our pricing. This impacts consumers, and they may choose to go elsewhere,” Leslie said.

As an F&B operator of 28 outlets in Malaysia and some abroad, Leslie said raw material price is one of the main concerns.

He said that as a contingency plan, The Olive Tree Group tied up with suppliers, capping the price of supplies for six months to one year to avoid pushing raw material price adjustments to consumers.

“We want to maintain our current prices for our food and drinks. We have a buffer with our suppliers, and therefore, our prices are maintained, even if there are any fluctuations in raw material prices,” he said.

Elaborating on manpower shortages, Leslie said that in Malaysia, consumers look for a personal human touch regarding service.

He said domestic operations are different in Europe, where people are already accustomed to self-service.

“We are in a country where customers need that human touch when it comes to service. To address manpower shortage issues, we recruit foreigners with hotel and catering experience to work in our outlets.

“These workers are usually the frontline staff, like waiters. Locals hold executive and management positions in all our outlets,” Leslie said.

The Olive Tree Group aims to become the go-to entertainment spot domestically and regionally.

Apart from La Chica, the group hosts 12 successful restaurants and bars, namely, The Beach Bar, Sutraa, Soul Room, Rock Bottom, Temptations Kitchen & Bar, Why Not, WoW Genting, and others.

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