Cynthia Chua finds Singapore too small for growth

Singapore is proving too small for Spa Esprit Group founder Cynthia Chua, who is expanding her cafe ventures internationally.

She opened her first F&B venture in London, A Wanted Man (pictured), three months ago. The three-storey 37-seat “espresso canteen” serves healthy foods includes a brow bar and waxing studio.

Now she plans to open more F&B and beauty outlets overseas, including cafe Common Man in Kuala Lumpur this month, then Open Door Policy and Common Man in Shanghai. Chua is also looking for a space in the German capital Berlin.

“Spa Esprit Group creates brands that are not just suitable for Asia,” she says. “We create brands that are current and could work anywhere… We’re all experiencing a third-wave coffee movement, and food is a way of life.”

Chua says it is harder to expand in Singapore at the moment “because if you don’t want to be in a mall, where can you be?”

She cites Singapore’s small footprint. “I can’t grow fast even if I wanted to because of all the constraints every entrepreneur faces. This was also one reason that propelled us to do things overseas.”

Spa Esprit Group has a diverse portfolio spanning beauty and F&B, with presence in nine cities internationally with 17 lifestyle brands.

Chua’s Singapore eateries Bochinche and Ding Dong, moved into a new Amoy St location last month.

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