11 September 18 The Business Times by ANN WILLIAMS
BREADTALK Group is bringing to Singapore the Wu Pao Chun bakery, which became famous after its founder - whose name the business takes after - won the title of Master Baker.
The first Wu Pao Chun bakery here will open at Capitol Piazza in Stamford Road in 2019, said BreadTalk on Monday following the inking of a joint venture (JV) agreement to operate the Taiwanese branded bakeries in the Republic and Hong Kong.
BreadTalk's wholly owned subsidiary, Together Inc, took an 80 per cent stake in the joint venture with Wu Pao Chun Food (WPC) holding the remainder.
The two companies entered into a joint venture in March to operate bakeries in the Chinese cities of Shanghai, Beijing, Shenzhen and Guangzhou. In the Shanghai venture, BreadTalk and WPC also hold an 80:20 shareholding split. For the other three cities, WPC has the option of increasing its share to 40 per cent.
George Quek, chairman of Bread-Talk, said in a statement on Monday that the flagship Wu Pao Chun bakery in Shanghai is scheduled to open in November this year.
"We look forward to leverage our market knowledge of Singapore and Hong Kong to serve our fans in these cities with Wu Pao Chun's award-winning bread series," he said.
Wu Pao Chun is an eight-year-old brand known for its Asian-style soft buns, artisanal European-style loaves and Japanese bread. Its bestsellers include its Taiwan Longan with Red Wine and Taiwan Litchi Rose Champion breads, which together account for about 20 per cent of the brand's revenue.
Mr Wu, born in Pingtung County in Taiwan, started out as an apprentice at 17 in various bakeries, before getting the opportunity to participate in bread competitions at 26. He won the title of Master Baker at the Masters de la Boulangerie or Bakery Masters in Paris in 2010, for his Taiwan Litchi Rose bread.
That same year, he opened his first store in Kaohsiung. He followed it up with a second shop in Taipei in 2013 and a third last year in Taichung.
In February this year, Mr Wu was conferred a medal by the Elite de la Boulangerie Internationale in recognition of his contribution to the global baking industry, making him the first bread master in Asia to receive such an honour, said BreadTalk.
In a statement on Monday, Mr Wu said: "It's our honour to partner BreadTalk Group for the second phase of our international growth plan. We learned key insights from our collaboration with BreadTalk Group since March and look forward to embarking on this successful journey together in Singapore and Hong Kong."
BreadTalk shares ended 1.5 per cent lower at S$0.965 on Monday.