SINGAPORE, Oct 17 — Homegrown cafe chain Bakerzin, which went into liquidation yesterday, owes creditors more than S$41 million (RM125.1 million). Of this, close to S$40 million is owed to its parent company, which had dug deep into its pockets to support the chain’s sluggish business.
Wong Joo Wan of Alternative Advisors, its liquidator, said that the Covid-19 pandemic merely hastened its closure. He was speaking to TODAY after a shareholders’ meeting and a creditors’ meeting were held on Friday afternoon to kick off the liquidation process.
He said that the director of Bakerzin Holdings, Mohamed Jamil Mohamed Amin, had provided details of the debts during one of the meetings.
The company had placed its last hopes on turning the business around by focusing on mooncake sales ahead of Oct 1’s Mid-Autumn Festival, he said.
But sales response fell “far below expectations”, slumping to a historic low as corporate sales took a hit since companies had cut their budget for the seasonal gift during the Covid-19 crisis, Wong said.
It was on this note that its parent company, Pacific United Holdings, decided to pull the plug on Bakerzin’s funding, with Jamil issuing a notice of a creditors’ meeting for the purpose of winding up on Oct 5, he added.
Jamil had given recognition to the Government for its support through various Covid-19 relief measures, but he said that even with the subsidies, it still did not make sense for the company to continue.
The Business Times reported that all of Bakerzin’s five outlets had shuttered on Oct 9. The article stated that the company had already been winding down its operations as early as August.
At the time, the cafe had said that it would be temporarily halting the sales of confectionery and meals on its online store so that its research and development chefs and production team could put their “full attention and time into crafting the best delicacies of mooncakes”.
From a list of 25 creditors seen by TODAY on Friday, Pacific United is owed at least S$39.8 million, while Sakae Holdings, one of its landlords, is owed the second highest sum, at more than S$660,000. Bakerzin’s central kitchen was located in Sakae’s building at Tai Seng near MacPherson estate.
Other affected landlords, where Bakerzin used to operate, are:
- Gardens by the Bay and Raffles Hospital, which are owed more than S$100,000 each
- YTL Starhill Global Reit Management, which manages Wisma Atria and is owed more than S$42,000
- UOL Property Investments, which manages United Square mall and is owed more than S$51,000
Other creditors include:
- The Central Provident Fund Board, which is owed more than S$26,000
- The Ministry of Manpower Services Centre, which is owed close to S$2,800
- The Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore, which is owed more than S$4,400
The cafe also owes more than S$25,000 in workers’ salaries, based on another list of preferential claims seen by TODAY.
Bakerzin was founded by award-winning pastry chef Daniel Tay in 1998 and was known then as Baker’s Inn until it was renamed in 2004. Tay, who now runs other pastry brands, Cat & The Fiddle and Old Seng Choong, sold the company in 2007 and managed it until 2013.
Speaking on behalf of Bakerzin, Wong of Alternative Advisors said: “It had been around Singapore for a long time, but unfortunately, given the trying times, it is what it is. It is not the first of familiar names to go down, and I don’t think it will be the last of familiar names to go down.”
Wong added that the parent company is disappointed with the outcome. “When you funded an operation to a tune of almost S$40 million, I am just admirable of the fact that they were really persistent in wanting to keep the company going,” he said. — TODAY