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Devin Widya Krisnadi: Winning the growth race

F&B Indonesia takes a slow and steady approach to business growth – and keeps its family values at the forefront every step of the way.

Devin Widya Krisnadi

When you launch a successful food and beverage company, it’s common to follow the well-trodden path of franchising to expand at speed. But Devin Widya Krisnadi, CEO of F&B Indonesia, believes adopting a family-values approach toward customers can lead to long-term sustainability. And as one of the top 20 food and beverage players in Asia, it’s safe to say that practicing what he preaches has paid off.

“We have more than 500 stores now,” Krisnadi says. “As a market leader, we also aggressively reach more customers in new cities, and continuously provide training for employees, both for staff at outlets and at the head office, as well as manpower planning to support business expansion.

“Everything is still directly operated and we run everything ourselves. We’ve laid the foundation for how this can be sustainable in the long run.”

An in-house focus

The failure rate for new businesses in the food and beverage industry is high. But Krisnadi believes keeping everything in-house is what has allowed the company to expand and bring new brands to Indonesia over the past decade.

“We’ve survived not only by aggressively expanding our network with a prudent strategy, but also because of our commitment to quality. We maintain consistency not only in network expansion but also in service and quality excellence. The challenge is always how to make the taste in Jakarta the same as the taste in Bali – especially as we have a presence in 65 cities across Indonesia,” Krisnadi says.

Furthermore, F&B Indonesia wants to keep improving itself as a human-centric organization for customers, and also for its employees. “In the food service industry, people are the key. We are not yet at the point where we want to be and there are a lot of improvements to be made. However, we believe that we are making progress every day, finding new ways to serve our customers better and providing a platform for our team to hone their skills and find joy in their work,” he explains.

“We prioritize building a sustainable business model based on excellence in every city, ensuring that people can relish the same exceptional taste regardless of their location. By adhering to this principle, we strive to create an enjoyable and consistent experience for our customers, no matter which city they visit. We believe in emphasizing the preservation of our brand’s integrity and the satisfaction of our patrons.”

“We’ve survived not only by aggressively expanding our network with a prudent strategy, but also because of our commitment to quality.”

Although this approach is unusual in the Indonesian food market, there’s no doubt it has worked well for F&B Indonesia. Fast forward to the present, it’s been able to grow beyond its original objectives.

The business that started with one beverage brand (Chatime) as a complementary retail business within the Kawan Lama Group, is now growing rapidly and presents in more than 500 stores located in 65 cities. The group has expanded its portfolio to include Cupbop in 2016, Gindaco in 2018, Chatime Atealier in 2019 and, most recently, Go! Go! CURRY – Genki no Minamoto in 2022.

“Our goal is to have multiple portfolio brands that have the same DNA, the same identity,” Krisnadi says. “Food and beverage is a very challenging and very short-lived business in many cases. So many brands come into Indonesia and only survive for a couple of years. Making these brands long-lasting for generations to come is a big challenge.”

Since the customers have returned to shopping malls after the COVID-19 pandemic, centering the experience around the store is one of the company’s short-term goals. 

That is why in 2023, F&B Indonesia opened soulfull hub in Darmo, Surabaya and Hang Tuah, Jakarta. “We want to make sure people can try many different offerings from all the brands that we have. And we don’t think this has ever been done in Indonesia before,” Krisnadi says.

“It’s our new and unique concept for our first dine-in restaurant. It’s a place with good design and a complete portfolio of our owned brands where customers can enjoy our brands under one roof while enjoying a ‘soulfull’ experience from your tastebuds to your heart.” 

Understanding daily challenges at the top

Devin Widya Krisnadi

“We don’t want our head office people to just say sales need to be created. They have to understand what it’s like on the ground,” he says.

This observation was easy to make as the team at head office regularly spends time in the brand stores in order to implement strategies that work from store level to boardroom.

This involves the head office team putting on a uniform and taking positions behind the counter, serving customers and speaking to staff while working through daily challenges.

“We don’t want our head office people to just say sales need to be created. They have to understand what it’s like on the ground.”

“That’s how we want to improve, by showing our commitment to the people. Every three months, our head office people come to the store and serve our customers directly, so that they get to know firsthand the challenge at the stores, the improvements that will make our crew’s lives easier and what the customers think,” Krisnadi says.

This is an ethos that neatly fits with the vision of Kawan Lama Group: “More than a family business. We are a business for families.”

Kawan Lama means old friend in English,” Krisnadi says. “When my grandfather started the business, the philosophy was, ‘We have to treat everybody as if they’re our old friend’.”

And there’s nothing friends like more than the chance to catch up over quality food and drink.

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