Saturday, January 25, 2014

Dr Mahathir and Motoko in bread-making venture


SERI KEMBANGAN: Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad is putting his money where his mouth is, at least as far as his bread is concerned. 
The former prime minister, via M&M Consolidated Resources Sdn Bhd, a 51:49 joint venture with Motoko Resources Sdn Bhd, is setting up a bakery-cum-restaurant in Langkawi that aims to produce high-quality bakery products and pastries served a la fine dining. 
The RM3mil bakery, called The Loaf, is located at Telaga Harbour Park. It will be launched on Saturday. 
In an interview, Dr Mahathir, who is company chairman, said whenever he visited Japan, he would invariably buy bread from a bakery in Tokyo called Johan before returning home. 
He said now that he had retired, he wanted to try his hand at business and decided to go into making Japanese bread as he considered bread from that country as being of high quality. 
“I have always urged people to go into business through joint ventures with foreigners. Now I want to try my hand at both – making bread and (going into) joint venture with the Japanese,” he told StarBiz
Dr Mahathir, who is also adviser of Langkawi Development Authority, said the island had some first-class hotels and restaurants but as a world-class resort, it had not been aiming for high-end food. 
Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad teams up with Mokoto for bread-making venture.
He said that currently, there were not many people looking for exquisite bread, but once they started getting it, they would begin to ask for it. “It’s a question of supply leading demand,” he added. 
M&M Consolidated managing director Jiro Suzuki said the bakery would initially offer 60 types of bread and 15 to 20 types of pastries, which would increase to 100 and 30 respectively by end-2007. 
He said in two to three years, the company would be looking at opening more outlets or expanding via franchising in high-class resorts in Phuket, Bali, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. 
Ultimately, it plans to have outlets or franchisees in Tokyo, London and New York, offering bakery products that are as good as those offered in these cities. 
Suzuki, who is also vice-president and chief operating officer of Motoko, sees M&M Consolidated breaking even in three to four years and making a return on investment of 5% to 10% a year. 
He said The Loaf would be mainly targeting Langkawi’s foreign tourists, who made up 40% of the 2.2 million visitors to the island yearly. Of the foreign tourists, some 70% are Europeans and about 10% Japanese.  
As The Loaf is located near the yacht harbour, it is also eyeing the well-heeled yacht owners. 
Jiro Suzuki
Suzuki said four staff members had been sent for three to six months’ training at Japan’s oldest bakery, H. Freundlieb, to not only pick up baking skills but also be inculcated with the culture of craftsmanship in bread making.  
The company has also engaged an award-winning Japanese chef. 
“Bread eating is popular among the Japanese, who have refined the baking technique and taken it to greater heights.  
“Twenty years ago, Asians looked to the West for bread but now that trend has reversed. Europeans are now coming to Asia,” he said. 

On the motivation behind his venture, Dr Mahathir said other than deriving some self-satisfaction, it was also important for the business to be profitable, as he needed to show an example and prove that anyone with a little business experience could do business by using the expertise of others.

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