Sophisticated Investor Profile: Douglas Foo

Dr. Clemen Chiang
Dr. Clemen Chiang

Douglas Foo is the multi-awarded Chairman, CEO and Founder of Sakae Holdings, Ltd, a Singapore Exchange-listed food and beverage company. Mr Foo has successfully grown what is now the major multinational company behind some of Asia’s most popular dining brands, from a single, groundbreaking sushi restaurant.

The VIP among “The Innovative Food People”, Mr Foo has been recognised time and again for his achievements in business as well as public service. Some of his many distinctions are

  • The 2002 Rotary-ASME Entrepreneur of the Year
  • The 2004 ASEAN Youth Award
  • The 2005 Health Leader (Excellence) Award from the Singapore Human Resource Institute
  • A 2007 National Day Awards Public Service Medal
  • The 2010 WSQ (Workforce Skills Qualifications) Champion Award from the Singapore Workforce Development Agency
  • The 2011 Asean-China Young Entrepreneur Award
  • The 2012 MCYS Volunteers Award
  • The 2013 Public Service Star Award from the President of the Republic of Singapore

Starting Small

Before becoming a big boss in the food and beverage industry, Mr Foo worked at a wide variety of jobs: he served with the Air Force, took turbine readings, did relief teaching, conducted door-to-door market surveys, baked, and sold shoes.

After earning his Business Administration (Finance) degree from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology in Australia, Mr Foo worked as a marketing executive whose job enabled him to make friends with his Japanese clients.

Sakae Sushi

Registering his own company, Apex-Pal in 1996, Mr Foo initially went into garment manufacturing and trading before going into Japanese food. In laying the foundations for what would become Sakae Sushi, Mr Foo sought to find a way to offer healthy yet affordable Japanese cuisine.

Through Sakae Sushi, Mr Foo introduced a number of innovations to the Japanese dining experience in Singapore: on top of the kaiten conveyor belt service, he offered individual water taps for making tea, interactive menus for ordering, robots for making sushi, and portable conveyor belts for catering.

After rolling out Sakae Sushi’s colourful saucers for the first time in 1997, Mr Foo has since expanded his Singapore-based sushi chain into a network of more than 200 branches in Singapore, China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, the US and Japan.

Sakae Holdings

Following in the footsteps of its founder, Sakae Sushi has likewise garnered several awards which include

  • The 2002 Enterprise 50 Award
  • The 2006 Singapore Prestige Brand Award (Regional)
  • The 2007 Singapore 1000 Award

In 2013, Mr Foo caused Sakae Holdings to be granted honourary membership in the MiDAs League. Today, on top of its flagship brand, Sakae Sushi, Sakae Holdings now has several superstar brands:

  • Sakae Teppanyaki
  • Sakae Delivery
  • Hei Sushi
  • Senjyu
  • Crepes & Cream
  • Sakae Express
  • Sachi
  • Kyo by Sakae
  • Nouvelle Events

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