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Inspired By His Father’s Grit, MyNEWS’ Founder Grew A Newsstand Into A Household Name

MyNEWS recently made the news for its plans to bring a popular South Korean convenience store known as CU into Malaysia.

The launch is planned for early 2021, with about 30-50 stores to be opened in the first year, and 500 within 5 years.

Even before this recent news, however, it’s hard to deny that MyNEWS isn’t already a prolific brand in Malaysia.

Under its belt, it operates over 530 stores as of today.

MyNEWS’ growth and expansion may not have been as explosive as its competitors 7-Eleven and FamilyMart’s, but we’d say it has the most interesting and humble beginnings.

The Old Days

Just as humble as MyNEWS’ beginnings are the beginnings of its founder Dang Tai Luk, who was named 2019 Ey Entrepreneur of the Year Malaysia.

Though he holds both a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in computer science from the University of Manitoba, Canada, Dang did not come from a position of privilege.

In an interview with The Edge, Dang shared that he grew up watching his father support nine children through rubber tapping and eventually, his ironworks business.

Growing up watching his dad’s startup had always inspired Dang to pursue a business of his own.

Prior to MyNEWS, Dang experienced two failed business ventures that were in distribution and manufacturing.

He failed the first time partly due to his partner’s inexperience.

The second time was due to “personal greed and mismanagement”, he shared with The Edge.

Finally, Dang and his wife, Ling Chao, opened the first flagship store in December 1996.

Their first store was actually called MagBit, combining the words “magazine” and “titbits”, which they sold in their store.

“It was a very small traditional newsstand that me and my family founded,” shared Dang.

The store was only a single newsstand measuring 200 square feet in 1Utama Shopping Centre.

Only when they launched their third store in MidValley Megamall in 1997 did they then change MagBit’s brand to the MyNEWS we now know.

It was then that they formed Bison Stores to operate and manage MyNEWS.

Bison was actually the university mascot of Dang’s alma mater, hence the name of the company.

Born Ready Amidst Competition

Despite being a small homegrown store, going up against big-name convenience stores like 7-Eleven didn’t scare Dang too much.

He shared his experience in an interview with Astro Awani in 2017.

“We came from a poor background with not much capital. What we have is energy and talent, so we have to take on it and grow.”

“There are international brands and there are homegrown brands, but homegrown brands can grow to be big and strong too,” said Dang.

In 2007, MyNEWS had already reached its 100th outlet.

By the time they reached their 150th outlet in 2012, Dang signed a 50-50 joint venture with WHSmith Travel, a British retailer similar to MyNEWS, that operates in airports.

Their 200th and 300th outlet followed in 2014 and 2016 respectively.

In the same year, their 300th outlet launched, they also licensed 2 MyNEWS stores in Myanmar’s Yangon International Airport, their first stepping stone into the international market.

While titbits were always a staple in MyNEWS, it didn’t stop Dang from continuously adapting to convenience store trends concerning ready-to-eat food.

They partnered with Gourmet Kineya Co. Ltd and Ryoyu Baking Co. Ltd in 2017 to produce ready-to-eat meals and bakery products for its stores, marking a major upgrade from titbits and snacks.

Both the ready-to-eat meals and bakery products factories are located at a food processing centre in Kota Damansara, where they relocated their HQ to the following year.

The current food processing centres supplying to MyNEWS will also be supplying to CU.

Convenience Is Underserved In Malaysia

From Dang’s backstory, it sounds like he’s a veteran when it comes to adapting to modern convenience stores trends.

It’s less of a surprise now that he’s decided to take on another international franchise that will not only compete with his own but other establishments that have been here before MyNEWS.

With the rising popularity of Korean food, music and culture among Malaysians, it’s understandable why Dang is taking this opportunity.

While many of us may see a saturated convenience store market in Malaysia, Dang begs to differ.

“That’s the way Malaysian consumers perceive it. But from an industry player’s point of view like myself, it is far from saturation. I call it underserved and underdeveloped.”

“Our convenience industry is behind other countries. When you’re behind and when you’re underdeveloped, that means there’s a lot to do and we can do a lot more,” Dang stated.

As of 2019, MyNEWS recorded a revenue of RM517.79 million, an increase of RM132.14 million or 34.3% compared to RM385.65 million from 2018.

Though their revenue this year so far has dropped to RM374.16 million, they’re still keen on pursuing this sub-franchising for a good reason.

According to The Edge, Dang noted that their group will see higher revenue as a result of the new stores that are expected to achieve better gross margins when compared to the MyNEWS stores, whose margins tend to be 30% to 40% currently.

While their own outlets will continue to be the group’s main earnings contributors, Dang expects to see CU contributing more in the future, once they break even in 2-3 years’ time.

You can read more about MyNEWS here.

Also ReadHP Just Launched An Affordable Plan For SMEs To Help with Digital Transformation

Featured Image Credit: Dang Tai Luk, founder of MyNEWS (EY/MyNEWS)

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