13th Jan, 2014

Business Venture That's Chock-a-block With Activity

Being in the chocolate trade is a sweet dream for many but an unexpected calling for the man behind candy retail chain The Cocoa Trees. Former engineer Paul Loo Lip Giam and head of the chocolates trading division at duty-free retailer DFS, Esther-Tang Loo, saw the opportunity to take over the distribution business for two chocolate brands and decided to set up Focus Network Agencies (FNA). FNA started distributing confectionery before moving into retail in 1993 with the FNA Chocolate Boutique, which was renamed The Cocoa Trees in 2000. The Cocoa Trees is strong in travel retail and has an established brand presence in the Asia-Pacific region such as China, India and the Maldives. FNA employs 550 people and had revenue of more than $203 million in FY2012. Its main business is The Cocoa Trees although it also distributes chocolate to supermarkets here and overseas and is in the wine business. The remarkable success of FNA stems from Mr Loo’s ability to seize new opportunities that led to him winning the Ernst & Young (EY) Entrepreneur of the Year award in 2013. To stay ahead, Mr Loo clearly believes in good customer service and to inculcate the company culture. The avid golfer and devout Catholic, who has four children, hopes to pass on the “legacy” of The Cocoa Trees to them so that he can focus on charity.