Meet Vuitton Pang, scion of Malaysia’s Mamee-Double Decker snack empire
Third-generation scion of the creators of those most addictive of childhood snacks – Mamee monster noodles and Double Decker prawn crisps – Vuitton Pang talks about how his time in the family company has shaped his own entrepreneurial drive.
Mamee monster noodles and Double Decker prawn crisps have always been a favourite of kids growing up in the 80s and 90s. Savoury and addictive, they are the Pang family’s creations.
The family began as a modest business manufacturing instant noodles in Melaka in 1972 and has since grown into one of the leading regional food manufacturers with over 50 products and 10 brands that are exported to over 100 countries. According to a report by The Edge, they achieved revenues of close to S$140 million in 2010 with Australia and Singapore as their largest export markets.
Third-generation scion Vuitton Pang grew up in Melaka and graduated with a double degree in Information Systems and Commerce from the University of Melbourne in 2004. After spending three years as a management associate for OSK Investment Bank Bhd, he joined the family firm as a business development manager. In 2020, after 11 years with the company, he decided to take a step back to start emart24, a premium Korean convenience store.
In a chat with CNA Luxury, the father of two reveals that he had been exposed to the family business from a very young age. From dinner conversations to visiting the factory – which felt like a second home – it was expected of him and his siblings to join the family business, or fulfil their “national service”, as he jokingly calls it.
However, as their family had a practice that obliged all members to have working experience beforehand, he joined OSK Investment to ensure he would be able to contribute to the company in a meaningful way.
Coming from a finance background, he was first tasked with setting up an Investor Relations team to increase awareness within the investment community. Though it was successful at increasing Mamee’s market capitalisation back then, the management still felt that the company was significantly undervalued, so Pang led the privatisation of Mamee, which was completed in 2011.
“I’m very blessed to have an amazing team of people from various backgrounds advising me and providing me with different perspectives.” – Vuitton Pang
“During my time at Mamee, I always believed that collaborations with organisations who are leaders in their respective categories were the way forward as the synergies would make Mamee more of a complete food company,” he explained. “To that end, we have had partnerships and joint ventures with Dydo Drinco Inc (a leading beverage manufacturer in Japan) and Shinsegae Food Inc (a leader in the meal service market in Korea) to name a few.” Despite being successful in his role, he decided to forge his own path about two years ago.
“The plan to bring emart24 to Malaysians was two years in the making. While on a business trip to Seoul, I was introduced to emart24 by my partners and remember being wowed by the whole experience. Having missed out on a previous opportunity involving a Japanese convenience store brand, this was an opportunity too good to pass,” he shared. The timing was also perfect as the Korean wave had taken Malaysia by storm and he was also motivated by the confidence that private equity investor, Karrin Associates, had in his idea.
emart24, operated by the Shinsegae Group, was established in South Korea in 2014 and is the fastest growing convenience store in Korea with over 5,200 outlets and counting. Redefining the convenience store experience, emart24 offers trendy store designs with high-quality, affordable products.
Because of this, Pang strongly believes that this is the convenience store concept that Malaysians deserve, as local convenience stores are perceived as destinations for emergency purchases and nothing more.
Pang is also quick to admit that his time at Mamee has certainly shaped him as an entrepreneur.
“At Mamee, our core values are innovation, intensity, integrity and involvement. These are the same values that I hope to cultivate at emart24.” – Vuitton Pang
“At Mamee, our core values are innovation, intensity, integrity and involvement. These are the same values that I hope to cultivate at emart24. In today’s competitive world, we have to continuously remain innovative to stay one step ahead of the competition for without it, we lose relevance very quickly.
“Involvement is also very important as I believe in leading by example. As someone from a completely different industry, my learning curve is very steep and being hands-on helps me understand every aspect of the retail industry,” he enthused.
“This brings me to the next point which is teamwork. I’ve learnt that the leader is only as good as the people he has around him. I’m very blessed to have an amazing team of people from various backgrounds advising me and providing me with different perspectives. Together, we hope to change the convenience store landscape in Malaysia.”
Pang has opened three stores in Klang Valley. The first one opened is in Bangsar South, Kuala Lumpur, followed by another in Desa Sri Hartamas, also in Kuala Lumpur. The third is in Kota Kemuning, Shah Alam.
He has plans to launch 300 stores across Malaysia in the next few years. Despite the challenges of opening during a pandemic, Pang believes that to succeed, emart24 will need to be more price sensitive and ensure that the Korean experience is affordable to all.
While Pang has a solid backing, a clear plan and a good product, he realises the road ahead will not be without pitfalls but takes courage in his family’s self-made success story: “I take a lot of inspiration from my grandfather and father as I can finally relate to how they must have felt when they started Mamee many years ago. It must have been very daunting for them as they committed their entire life savings into a venture and industry in which they had no experience. Despite that, with hard work, respect and integrity as their moral compass, they made it. These are the same values instilled in me as I embark on my own journey.”
“I take a lot of inspiration from my grandfather and father as I can finally relate to how they must have felt when they started Mamee many years ago.” – Vuitton Pang