With sky-high commercial rents and a peckish consumer base with no dearth of alternatives, thriving in Singapore's competitive food and beverage (F&B) industry is tough; it takes anywhere between 18 months to three years for new entrants to break even, according to one industry boss.
But Edina Hong, one half of the dynamic duo at the Emmanuel Stroobant Group, said that by staying lean in a sector with wafer-thin margins, it was possible to succeed. With her husband, award-winning chef Emmanuel Stroobant, Hong oversees operations at the eight mid-market restaurants owned by the group in the city-state.
"We are pretty lean," Hong told CNBC's "Managing Asia."
"Off the top of my head, [we make] somewhere between 10 to 12 million [Singapore dollars] ($7 million - $8.4 million) in revenue a year."
The profit margin is about 10 percent. "It is unfortunate," Hong said, "that F&B is not one of those industries [where] you have fantastic percentages in terms of profitability."
Of the chain of restaurants Hong and Stroobant own, the stand-out is Saint Pierre, which offers French fare at the luxury residential enclave Sentosa Cove in the eastern part of Sentosa - an island resort off the Singapore mainland that is popular among tourists.
The restaurant was initially a fine dining haunt but since relocating from Central Mall on Magazine Road to Sentosa it has leaned towards casual dining, in response to the local customer base.