For a chocolate business started in 2005, it’s a bold thing to claim that your products are as good as the ones made by the giants from Switzerland and Belgium. But go ahead and ask Queenie Teng of Malaysian chocolate manufacturers Harriston, and you’ll get a response that’s as confident as you’ll find.
“There’s nodoubt Belgium and Switzerland produce some of the best chocolates,and I feel that Harriston’s chocolates are up to par with the bestas well,” she said.
Going on a stroll down memory lane, it was Queenie’s father S.C. Teng, a former tour guide who founded the company more than ten years ago out of a huge love for chocolates.
“My father hasbeen in love with chocolates ever since he was a child and herealised from a young age that chocolate made people smile,” shesaid. “Hence he was adamant on building his very own world-famouschocolate emporium in Malaysia.”
Back then, the brand went by the names Cocoa Boutique and then Chocolate Gallery, and it was only a while later when S.C. decided to name the company after his favourite Beatles member George Harrison.
“Carrying the sameenergy day-in and day-out, my father decided to name the companyafter someone that inspired him,” Queenie explained. “So insteadof naming the company ‘Harrison’, he took the letter T from‘Teng’ and incorporated it into Harriston, thus the company wasborn!”
Drawing The Global Crowd
Today, Harriston is run by the Teng family, with S.C., his wife, and his daughters Queenie and Wei Tzyy all heavily involved in the day-to-day running of the company and over 200 individuals from all over Malaysia involved in manufacturing and sales.
But the interesting fact about Harriston is the clientele that frequent them the most—tourists. Queenie explained that so far, there’s been a surprisingly large amount of foreign customers at their locations in KL, Penang, and Genting Highlands, with their customer count standing at over 8 million from over 80 countries around the world.
“A large part ofour revenue comes from tourists who visit Malaysia,” she said. “Ifyou were to come over to any of our outlets nationwide, you’llnotice buses of tourists stopping by everyday to taste our uniquelocal creations.”
She revealed that the reason for this was Harriston’s unique and extensive offerings (over 150 different chocolate products to choose from) that include ingredients such as real durian flesh, papaya, curry, and tongkat ali among other things.
“We truly take pride in the creative work being put into the creation of our chocolates where we infuse them with true Malaysian flavours,” she added. “The commitment to bringing authentic flavours has garnered much attention from customers around the world.”
Remembering Their Roots
Butbeyond their popularity among tourists, Harriston also now wants toengage more with their Malaysian audience and to let them know thatthere’s a great chocolate brand on home soil.
“Previously,our company focused on tourists and they constitute a big portion ofour supporters,” Queenie said. “But now, reaching out to localsand gaining their trust is something else we’re currently focusingon.”
“Wewant to distinguish our brand and quality from direct and indirectcompetitors within the local chocolate industry,” she added. “Interms of market growth, we’re positive of what will come as we’reexpanding our influence and reach each day.”
Ultimately,the end goal for Harriston is to become a world-classchocolate brand, and one that Malaysians can be proud of.
“For us atHarriston, we’re constantly on the prowl to make more uniquelyMalaysian chocolates for our people to enjoy and celebrate together,”Queenie said. “But to be more specific, our main goal is to be aworld-renowned chocolate maker from Malaysia, capitalising on ourcountry’s position as one of the top chocolate exporters in theworld.”
More Than Just A Business
As of current, their business has grown to become more than just a manufacturer and seller of chocolates, with a number of their outlets also offering chocolate related experiences such as educational tours and workshops to get more people to appreciate the art of chocolate-making.
“We educate ourpatrons on the products they consume, and this contributes to thecurrent cultural and societal values of our generation,” Queeniementioned.
Additionally, Harriston does its part to give back to society by actively contributing to charities. Last year, they collaborated with Kelab Rahman Putra to help raise RM50,000 for orphans from Rumah Anak Yatim Mary, and has also contributed to the Sabah Earthquake Relief Fund, and the Penang Handicapped Welfare Association, just to name a few.
“We participate inquite a number of CSR programs as we see the company as a responsiblecitizen of Malaysia, too!” Queenie said. “For instance, we donatea portion of our proceedings from purchases of our 80% DarkChocolates to the Cocoa Horizon Foundation.”
“This is done inhopes of elevating the quality of life for these hard-workingindividuals and also our way of thanking them for all they’ve donein the past few years—without them we’d not be able to do what wedo today.”
Targetting The Top Rung
Looking ahead,Harriston will be looking to solidify their status as a premiumchocolate brand both here and around the world, and Queenie thinksthat the success they’ve enjoyed so far is a good indicator of howwell Malaysia can develop as producer of chocolates.
“I think it’sgreat that more and more Malaysians are starting to realise that wecan compete on the global stage,” she said. “Our chocolates andchocolatiers are really up there with the rest of the world.”
“To have more andmore artisanal chocolate makers popping up also gives us greatcompetition and the drive to be even better.”
Proving this point, Harriston has recently managed to form a partnership with international chocolate giant Barry Callebaut to introduce their Ruby chocolates to the local region for the firs time, and they’ve also launched a premium sub brand called Harriston Chocolatier offering more upscale chocolate offerings.
“When we started,people questioned if it was feasible for us to create our ownhome-grown chocolates,” Queenie said. “We’ve never let thosequestions stop us—if we can produce chocolates in Malaysia underthis hot weather, you can do what excites you, too.”
“Our mission has always been to spread more smiles and we’re glad to know that we’ve reached out to so many people already!”
Feature Image Credit: Harriston