Marrybrown’s humble shoplot beginnings to global franchise branding

Having an international appeal

would have imagined or thought that a brand that started in Johor Baru
in 1981 would become one that all Malaysians can be proud of.

Fried Chicken Sdn Bhd, operator of Malaysia’s largest home-grown
fast-food restaurant chain, began at a small shoplot in Jalan Wong Ah

Over the last 28 years, Marrybrown has ventured into other countries, proving that a Malaysian brand is able to make an impact in the global branding fraternity.

Liew (left) with Nancy says its franchised overseas outlets also offer
favourite local dishes from the countries in which they operate.

Presently, there are over 250 company-owned and franchised Marrybrown
outlets in Malaysia, China, India, Sri Lanka, United Arab Emirates,
Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Tanzania, Iran, Syria and

Founder and manager director Nancy Liew says the
name Marrybrown simply popped into her mind when she decided to start a
fast-food business.

“It is simple to pronounce, easy to remember
and has an international appeal, as shown when we market the brand
overseas,” she says in an interview with StarBizWeek.

says unlike in the fashion or cosmetics business where brands can
sometimes be a mouthful or hard to pronounce, it is a big NO in the
fast-food industry.

She says most of the international fast-food
brands tend to be three-syllable such as KFC, Burger King and
McDonald’s, and so is Marrybrown.

Liew says when she started the fast-food business; many were sceptical her fried chicken outlets would do well or even survive.

was because at that time, a US-based fast-food chain offering fried
chicken was already a household name in Malaysia, having been in the
country 10 years earlier.

“So, we have to be different. Instead
of fried chicken and burgers, we also offer local favourites such as
satay, nasi goreng, nasi lemak and rice porridge,” she says.

says the local dishes are not only proven main attractions on the menu
but are also popular among customers at its overseas outlets.

from the Malaysian dishes, its franchised overseas outlets also offer
favourite local dishes from the countries in which they operate, she

Meanwhile, business development manager Joshua Liew says
the company will open four new outlets this year, one each at the
Low-Cost Carrier Terminal in Sepang and Kuching’s Satok next month,
Penang Times Square in March and Ivory Tower Penang in April.

there are 112 Marrybrown outlets in Malaysia, of which 80% are
franchised. The overseas outlets are developed by its master

“This year we are opening in Indonesia, Maldives, Kenya, Morocco, Senegal, Jordan, Turkey, Egypt and Oman,” says Joshua.

says the Middle East region is the most promising for franchising
business and Marrybrown will increase its outlets there to between 80
and 90 by year-end from 47 now.

Joshua says being a halal Malaysian brand helps the company convince master franchisees especially in the Middle East.

years, customers in these countries have only known fast-food
restaurants products and brands from Europe and the USA, he says.

from our master franchisees in the Middle East shows they are more
comfortable dealing with Malaysian companies as we are trustworthy and
reliable,” says Joshua.

He said the next market for Marrybrown
is the African continent as many big boys in the fast-food business are
not keen to go there.

“But to us, the African continent is like
a rough diamond waiting to be cut and polished for the shine and
sparkle to emerge,” says Joshua.