Inside Asian Gaming meets the owners of three local SMEs at Broadway Macau to find out how partnering with Galaxy Entertainment Group has helped them reach dizzying new heights.
According to an old Chinese proverb, “Give a poor man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach him to fish and you will feed him for a lifetime.”
As one of Macau’s leading corporations and a responsible corporate citizen, Galaxy Entertainment Group (GEG) has long been dedicated to giving back to the local community and continues to support local small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) via various initiatives to help Macau’s economy move towards diversification.
Based on the “Large Businesses Leading Small Businesses” business model, GEG’s Broadway Food Street is a hallmark example of how large-scale integrated resorts cooperate with local SMEs.
Since 2015, GEG has taken a proactive approach to assisting local, traditional F&B brands in their modernization and corporatization, and has invited local SMEs in the sectors of retail and F&B to open outlets in the Broadway Food Street at Broadway Macau.
“When we started this project, the original idea was to focus on tourists,” explains Harrison Lun, Vice President Broadway Hospitality Operations & Theatre.
“We planned to build a food street so that tourists don’t have to go to the streets and alleys, and can enjoy different kinds of authentic Macau food at one venue.
“We wanted to find local businesses that are really authentic and special, not necessarily famous, but really delicious. We did a lot of research and literally knocked door by door to sincerely invite these local traditional brands to join.”
The task was a tricky one, Harrison recalls, with some local SMEs skeptical at first.
But the decision to partner with Galaxy proved to be an easy one for Joe Lei, the third-generation owner of traditional Cantonese cuisine brand Lei Ka Choi, or “Lei’s Cuisine” in English, who took the opportunity to jump on board immediately.
“Eighty percent of the customers in our other stores in Macau may be locals, but the tourists here (at the Broadway Food Street) are more concentrated,” Lei tells Inside Asian Gaming.
“It is a place where we can build our reputation, and we plan to go to mainland China for further development in the future. This shop on Broadway is our most influential shop. We usually have four or five rounds of clients in one night, which is almost a miracle in Macau.”
Iu Lam Lim, owner of traditional Cantonese dessert shop Hang Heong Un, agrees with Lei.
“We have been operating traditional dessert shops in Macau for over 54 consecutive years, and our previous practices were very traditional,” explains Iu. “One of the reasons we chose Broadway is that there are more tourists and the demand is younger, so we started to add desserts that young people like, such as mango pancakes, which cannot be found in our other shops. This platform gives us the opportunity to do so.”
An added benefit, Iu adds, has been the attention to detail provided by GEG.
“After we moved in, Broadway initiated hygiene inspections twice a week,” he says. “This has greatly improved our traditional dessert practices, because the previous generations were not paying such attention in terms of hygiene. The hygiene supervision from Broadway actually helped us to set up a standard in terms of food preservation, food sanitation and production-period validity.”
The application of strict hygiene standards are one function almost all of the Broadway store merchants IAG spoke with raised as a significant benefit.
In addition to prioritizing local companies and brands in its procurement process, GEG also provides them with training and technical advisory services, including an invitation to attend its SME Series Food Safety Workshop, where the GEG’s internal food safety protocols and practices were shared and presented to its F&B suppliers. Full sponsorships to attend the Food Traceability Training and CIEH Intermediate Certificate in Food Safety (Level 3) training course were also provided to GEG’s eligible suppliers.
“After we gradually became familiar with and met these standards, our desserts were ready to go further out of Macau. We have now opened four branches in Hong Kong, all starting from here,” Iu says proudly.
Chak In Kei boss Ivan Cheong also strongly agrees. Founded in 1944, Chak In Kei specializes in making the traditional Macau street snack egg waffles. When the 28-year-old Cheong took over from his grandparents, he had already determined to give the brand a makeover.
“Broadway has helped us a lot in terms of publicity and events so that we were able to make a name for ourselves quickly,” Cheong offers. “We now have opened seven stalls in Macau, and currently have been approached by the Osaka government and a big shopping mall in Guangzhou, inviting us to open there.
“We entered this rapid development track after moving in here. Thanks to Broadway, it may be possible to open stalls in other places.
“This cooperation is an opportunity for me. Young entrepreneurs are not necessarily renting shops in a rich and crowded place. The success here includes the creation of a healthy ecology. Here is a place to park, and everyone can buy egg waffles after meals or before they go to see movies or performances. There are very few opportunities to be in the right place at the right time like this.”
Most of Macau’s SMEs have been heavily affected by COVID-19. To support the local community in prevention and other efforts against COVID-19, GEG has also rolled out an array of practical initiatives, including having waived the fixed rental fee for all GEG tenants from February to June 2020. For this, Lei and Iu were very grateful, as rent occupies a considerable part of their day-to-day costs.
Lei said that at the height of the pandemic, turnover fell by between 80% and 90%, and even during the final months of 2020 was down by between 50% and 60%.
“For our shop, [rent relief] has reduced a lot of burden,” says Lei.
“We are the same,” Iu chimes in. “The rent exemption is a relief for us, and allows us to survive.”
This is the second time in just three years that GEG has provided added support to its SMEs, the first being in 2017 following the devastating impact of Typhoon Hato.
Such support is provided through the GEG Foundation, and although the owners of affected businesses were able to apply for subsidies and interest-free loans from the Macau Government, the GEG Typhoon Relief Fund was nevertheless able to provide GEG’s partners at Broadway Macau with financial assistance in their efforts to recover from the typhoon.
Other measures launched by GEG during the COVID-19 pandemic have included subscribing to HK$100 million of SME-themed COVID-19 Impact Alleviation Social Bonds issued by Bank of China (BOC) Macau, and organizing the “Healthy and Fun Carnival” which saw 70 booths provided to more than 100 different local SMEs to participate in the carnival free of charge.
According to GEG’s Lun, Broadway usually cooperates with SMEs on marketing plans without charging any fees for the promotion. It also provides support for security, hygiene and the daily management of restaurants and their staff.
During the pandemic, GEG regularly distributed disinfectant to each merchant and required them to follow the company’s daily cleaning processes. Merchant staff are also allowed to eat in GEG’s staff canteen.
“The overall management can ensure that the standards of each shop are not too scattered,” he explains.
“When organizing any event, we pay close attention to the finance and hygiene section. We stick to the same standard and hope our fellow merchants will gradually get our ideas, operation patterns and requirements, so as to gradually introduce our models to their own businesses. I believe this is a good ‘Large Businesses Leading Small Businesses’ business model.
“We have many examples of successful investment. The Roadhouse Macau, for example, has made money on that investment and has now invested in another project at Broadway. These are the things that tenants can do with our platform.
“As for [Chak In Kei boss] Ivan, in addition to his current egg waffle stalls, he also runs a game booth and a Thai restaurant on Broadway.
“I am so happy to see that not only have they made money, they’ve also improved and grown along the way.”