Wowprime Corp (王品), the nation’s largest restaurant chain operator, yesterday denied a media report that morale at the company has been rocked by massive layoffs and employee benefit cuts, as last year’s string of food safety scandals continue to drag on sales growth.
“While we acknowledge that the company’s slowing growth rate has compelled some of our staff to tender resignations, the change in overall headcount is not out of the ordinary amid a persistent labor shortage in the restaurant industry,” Wowprime chairman Park Chen (陳正輝) told reporters, adding that the company is still profitable and financially sound.
Chen, who was appointed chairman in July, said that the company raised its hiring target two months ago as it prepares to launch new brands.
The Chinese-language Apple Daily yesterday reported that Wowprime, beset by cash flow woes, is planning to lay off 20 to 30 percent of its head-office staff, leading to a flight of senior managers.
The report also said that since taking the reins, Chen had been quick to close down unprofitable stores and underperforming brands, such as the shuttering of Famonn Coffee (曼咖啡) in July because the chain had failed to meet sales expectations since it was established in 2011.
Wowprime’s financial report indicates that as of last month, the company’s total headcount had decreased by about 1,200, or 10 percent, to 17,351.
“The reduced headcount is partly due to the departure of 700 to 800 former Famonn Coffee employees following the chain’s shuttering. Although we did our best to reassign them to the group’s other brands, many of them said that they wished to continue pursuing a career in the coffee industry,” Chen said.
However, the company did not explain how Famonn Coffee, which had 11 stores in February and five in its final month of operation, required 700 to 800 employees, or about 50 per store, compared with the average headcount of 15 at competing coffee shops.
The report also said that the company has halted its employee share ownership program to cut monthly costs by about NT$20 million (US$607,183).
The company said that the scheme is undergoing an adjustment so that it yields improved returns.
Chen said that the company would continue to streamline its operations and transition its lower-priced brands from standalone stores to shopping mall food courts.
Instead of developing more home-grown brands, Chen said that the company is looking to bring international franchises to Taiwan.
To display its commitment to food safety, Wowprime yesterday unveiled its cloud-based database that allows consumers to check the ingredients used at the company’s restaurants.
Wowprime shares declined 0.83 percent to close at NT$182 in Taipei trading yesterday.
NOTABLE SHIFT: By 2030, 50% of all laptops would be assembled in Southeast Asia, while Taiwan would still mostly focus on research and development, a report said Global laptop and desktop computer supply chains are expected to shift significantly away from China in the next 10 years, a Market Intelligence & Consulting Institute (MIC, 產業情報研究所) report said. By 2030, only 40 percent of global laptop production would remain in China, said the report, which was released on Thursday. “The reshuffling of the global supply chain will be one of the most important trends in the next 10 years,” the institute said in the report. “In the long run, key component makers will follow laptop assemblers in moving out of China.” The Taipei-based institute predicted most key component makers
NO VIRUS BLUES: A SEMI Taiwan official said that the virus does not slow down the global semiconductor industry’s investment in manufacturing equipment The production value of the nation’s semiconductor industry is expected to grow 16.7 percent this year from last year, outpacing the global industry’s 3.3 percent growth, industry association SEMI said yesterday. That would help Taiwan safeguard its second spot in the global semiconductor market with a production value of more than NT$3 trillion (US$102.73 billion), SEMI Taiwan president Terry Tsao (曹世綸) told a media briefing in Taipei for the Semicon Taiwan trade show beginning today. The global semiconductor industry’s production value is expected to increase to US$426 billion this year, SEMI said. In terms of semiconductor equipment investment, equipment billings from Taiwanese firms
Intel Corp has received licenses from US authorities to continue supplying certain products to Huawei Technologies Co (華為), a company spokesman said yesterday. Washington has been pushing governments around to world to squeeze out Huawei, saying that the telecom giant would hand data to Beijing for espionage. From Monday last week, new curbs have barred US companies from supplying or servicing Huawei. This week, the state-backed China Securities Journal reported that Intel had received permission to supply Huawei. China’s Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp (SMIC, 中芯國際), which uses US-origin equipment to make chips for Huawei and other companies, last week confirmed that it had sought
Merck Group Taiwan yesterday said that it plans to invest substantially on expanding its fab in Kaohsiung’s Lujhu District (路竹) to better serve its local customers, including Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC, 台積電). The company said it plans to expand its production space by 50 percent in the next five years and its workforce by about 40 percent, Merck Group Taiwan managing director Dick Hsieh (謝志宏) told a media briefing in Taipei. Hsieh declined to disclose investment details, but said that the latest investment would exceed the total amount Merck has invested in Taiwan over the past few years. Those investments would be