Giant operator Dairy Farm to exit Malaysian grocery business after 24 years

KUALA LUMPUR : Hong Kong’s Dairy Farm International Ltd (DFI), which operates a chain of hypermarkets and supermarkets under the Giant, Mercato and Giant Mini brands, is exiting its grocery business in Malaysia, which has become increasingly competitive over the past few years, industry sources said.

DFI, which operates the retail chain under GCH Retail (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd, is believed to have been sold for “at least a couple of billions [of] ringgit” to a group of Malaysians led by Datuk Andrew Lim Tatt Keong. Lim is the group executive chairman of KL Sogo and he also sits on the board of Penang-based Gama Supermarket & Departmental Store Sdn Bhd.

GCH Retail in Malaysia is 70% owned by DFI and 30% by Syarikat Pesaka Antah Sdn Bhd, a company linked to Negeri Sembilan royalty.

It is undestood that DFI’s Singapore retail business will not be sold .

The Edge understands that an announcement will be made by the company to its employees this afternoon.

GCH, which had aggressively shut stores in Malaysia since 2019, bringing the total number of stores to less than half by 2021, undertook a revamping, resizing and repositioning exercise to return to the black. In 2018, it operated some 122 stores.

The company was in the red from 2013 and returned to the black in 2020, posting RM12.23 million in net profit. The retailer however slipped back into the red in FY2021. It is yet to file its financial results for the year ended Dec 31, 2022. In FY2021, the retailer posted a net loss of RM106.17 million, on the back of RM2.38 billion in revenue. It had total liabilities of RM2.71 billion and total assets of RM1.23 billion.

GCH entered the country in 1999, via the purchase of a 90% stake in the Giant business, then operated by the Teng family. At the time, there were seven stores — five supermarkets and two hypermarkets.

GCH is part of the DFI group. DFI is incorporated in Bermuda and has a main listing on the London Stock Exchange and secondary listings in Bermuda and Singapore.

In Malaysia, DFI also operates a pharmacy and health and beauty chain under the Guardian Health & Beauty Sdn Bhd.

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