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Dato' Joshua Liew, CEO of Marrybrown /Marrybrown

How this home-grown fast-food brand is tackling the cost of living woes in Malaysia

The brand first began operations in Malaysia in 1981.

The cost of living has impacted the poorest sectors in Malaysia and to mitigate its effect, the Domestic Trade and Cost of Living Ministry (KPDN) launched the Menu Rahmah initiative on 31 January.

In this initiative, the Malaysian government partnered with select restaurants that will then serve lunch or dinner sets fixed at RM5, or a little more than a dollar.

The initiative specifically targets those from the B40 income group or those who are earning $1,119.07 (RM5,000) per month and the hardcore poor by helping provide them with affordable meals.

One of the first who participated in this initiative is one of Malaysia’s biggest halal fast-food brands, Marrybrown. 

Founded in Malaysia in 1981, Marrybrown has over 500 restaurants across 16 countries with the objective of delivering the highest standard of quality, service, cleanliness and value for the perfect dining experience.

In a quick chat with QSR Media, Dato' Joshua Liew, CEO of Marrybrown explained why the Menu Rahmah initiative is important to them as one of the biggest brands in Malaysia, the challenges in Malaysia’s fast-food industry, and where Marrybrown is headed in the near future.

QSR Media: What does the Rahmah Initiative mean for Marrybrown?

 Joshua: As you may know, the Menu Rahmah initiative was launched by the Domestic Trade and Cost of Living Ministry (KPDN) in January 2023 to provide well-balanced meals to the B40 group.  

The past two years have taken a toll on many of us due to the pandemic. The many unforeseen challenges that happened throughout the pandemic have caused many Malaysians into lower-income categories because of income reduction, loss of employment and more. While that chapter has passed, many are still doing their best to recover from this, especially the B40s. 

As a homegrown brand that believes in constantly giving back to the community who needs an opportunity of support, this is a chance for us to reach out to these communities and provide them with good yet substantial food so that they and all our customers regardless of income group can indulge in good-value food without breaking the bank. 

How is Marrybrown participating in this initiative?
  
Since the announcement of this initiative, Marrybrown has worked closely with the government to gauge how we can contribute to this initiative. 

For menu Rahmah, we offered two options between Menu Rahmah Burger Ayam and Menu Rahmah Nasi Kari with a bottle of Dasani Drinking Water that customers could choose from. The meals are priced at RM5.00.

What are the current challenges in the fast-food industry in Malaysia? How is Marrybrown responding to these challenges?

Due to inflation, the cost of goods and operations rising is an unavoidable circumstance. However, we are willing to absorb the cost without compromising the standards we uphold in producing good food. 

What is new with Marrybrown? What business direction are you headed?

On the outlet level, we have refreshed our interior to a contemporary look with new product profiles. To ensure that our customer service is always at its best, we have also included new computerised assistance for the food preparation system that helps shorten the customer service time. 

Petron Paroi branch /Marrybrown.

We have also launched contactless ordering options to better serve our customers. Since then, we have launched the MB App where customers can also redeem rewards while enjoying self-ordering kiosks and brand collaboration with other shopping platforms.

Additionally, since we first started more than 40 years ago, our growth has not only been attributed to our customers, but to our franchisees and partners who saw a vision to grow together with us. In terms of franchising, we are also looking to help more passionate entrepreneurs to achieve success with our ready-made and award-winning franchise business model.

You've recently opened a restaurant in Dubai. Can you tell us about it? What are your expectations and plan for this entry? 

Marrybrown first entered United Arab Emirates (UAE) in the year 2000 through franchising and received great reviews for over 20 years. This February, we also opened our latest outlet right in Dubai International Airport Terminal 1! We hope to see more customers both local and international be it from Dubai or making a pitstop in Dubai, to be able to indulge in the meals offered by Marrybrown. With a majority of travel layovers being in Dubai, we are certain to be able to reach a wider profile of customers.

Do you have any other expansion plans? Please tell us about them.

Definitely! Domestically, we are focusing on opening more than 100 new outlets within the next three years. Our focus doesn’t stop there, we are also looking into international markets. We have signed with a master franchiser in Australia with the launching of the first store in early May of 2023.

Lebuhraya Meru branch /Marrybrown

We have also received franchise requests for Europe and Africa where we are also looking to roll out more establishments soon. As of now, we are operating in Tanzania and Sweden. 

What can we expect for Marrybrown before the year is up?

In true Marrybrown fashion, we are rolling out something different and new with exciting product promotions which we hope to receive positive responses, and we are eager to have more outlet openings to be able to serve more customers be it across the region or globally.  

Where do you see your brand in five years?

Within the next five years, we hope to have expanded our footprint to a wider customer base domestically and internationally. We want to bring Malaysian goodness across the globe and have people enjoy “something different” and delicious.

We also hope to keep improving our existing operations system and franchising model to stay competitive in the market and to attract more franchisees to grow with us.

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