Kenny Hills Hospitality Group : The Home of Craft Baking Expansion

Poppi BurkeLucy Pilgrim
Poppi Burke - Project Manager Lucy Pilgrim - Deputy Head of Editorial
At A Glance
  • Kenny Hills Hospitality Group is home to some of the country’s most beloved baked produce, positioned as an upscale artisanal business that is an industry leader in the Malaysian market.
  • Currently employing over 1,000 staff and serving millions across its entire footprint, the organisation is primed to evolve from bakery and coffee products to the hospitality sector.
  • The company strives to continue nurturing its ongoing relationships with a multitude of organisations and charities that work with the homeless, impoverished, and orphaned.
  • “There aren’t many independent, multi-brand food and hospitality operators in Malaysia, and few have achieved such accelerated growth as we have in recent years,” says Kai Zen Au, Managing Director, Kenny Hills Hospitality Group.

Renowned in Malaysia for baked goods that heal the soul, Kenny Hills Hospitality Group has achieved enviable expansion and tremendous product growth. Kai Zen Au, Managing Director, tells us more.

THE HOME OF CRAFT BAKING EXPANSION

Located in the heart of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia’s bustling capital, Kenny Hills Hospitality Group (Kenny Hills) has become a pioneer in the craft baked goods sector. 

The company is home to some of the country’s most beloved baked produce, positioned as an upscale artisanal business that is an industry leader in the Malaysian market. 

The organisation was founded in 2014 as a single-brand operator, simply known as Kenny Hills Bakers. Fast forward a decade later, and this humble establishment has experienced tremendous growth, now operating across five core business areas. 

“There aren’t many independent, multi-brand food and hospitality operators in Malaysia, and few have achieved such accelerated growth as we have in recent years,” introduces Managing Director, Kai Zen Au

Despite its recent sizeable scale, Kenny Hills remains committed to using artisanal approaches and techniques in food preparation, especially when it comes to baking and making coffee. 

“These are extremely technical, labour-intensive skills that we rely on a great team of bakers, pastry chefs, roasters, and baristas to perfect, rather than choosing methods of commercialisation and mass production,” he expands.  

Currently employing over 1,000 staff and serving millions across its entire footprint, the organisation is primed for evolving its operations from bakery and coffee products to the hospitality sector. 

As such, the company’s restaurant and bar division expertly builds independent, high-end restaurant concepts.  

Geographically, Kenny Hills is centred around the more affluent markets of Malaysia, including but not limited to Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur city centre, Taman Tun Dr Ismail (TTDI), and Bukit Tunku. The company’s name is a nod to the latter, as the region was formerly known as Kenny Hills and the site of its first location. 

“We are currently concentrated within the Klang Valley area, with further growth in other vibrant states such as Penang later this year, followed by international expansion into key capital cities in Southeast Asia,” insights Au.

ROOM FOR GROWTH

Kenny Hills’ trajectory of growth continues with the recent launch of four new brands in the newly established Tun Razak Exchange (TRX) shopping centre in the heart of Kuala Lumpur. 

The company is proud to be a part of TRX as it is home to many new-to-market brands, a 106-storey office building, a brand new 5-star hotel, and more. 

“It was the first time we have opened four outlets in one month, which is even more impressive considering each concept was different. 

“Two of these brands also occupy the most prime sites in the entire mall – two duplex units overlooking the largest rooftop park in Malaysia in a first-of-its-kind venture,” Au highlights. 

Kenny Hills will continue to break boundaries in 2024 as its forays into Penang Island, off the west coast of the Malaysian peninsula. The company is excited to launch its flagship site in a standalone heritage bungalow, located on prime land. 

With this penetration into a new geographical market, Kenny Hills plans to expand its repertoire in the region, launching Penang-based hotel groups to operate food and beverage components, breakfast lounges, and sell wholesale bakery products. There is also potential to introduce new brands in Penang over the space of several months. 

Additionally, the company anticipates the acquisition of a new factory alongside its current production side. The new facility will increase Kenny Hills’ production capacity and formally introduce the company’s new manufacturing arm, Kenny Hills Manufactory. 

Operational for over a year and a half, the facility’s success is down to word-of-mouth, garnering enough attention to keep the factory operational 24 hours a day. Furthermore, the facility will be pushing to receive its Halal licensing later this year, with all necessary certifications, such as ISO22000 and Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP). 

In order to achieve recognisable expansion, the company works with local and international suppliers who add value to the overall supply chain. 

“The last two years since the COVID-19 pandemic have been difficult from a supply and price fluctuation standpoint, but due to our volume, we can ensure our products remain at a reasonable price for our customers,” Au states.

“There aren’t many independent, multi-brand food and hospitality operators in Malaysia, and few have achieved such accelerated growth as we have in recent years”

Kai Zen Au, Managing Director, Kenny Hills Hospitality Group

A PEOPLE FIRST CULTURE

Kenny Hills is passionate about cultivating ample conditions for employee growth as it strives to grow the next business leaders. The company offers its staff the resources, guidance, and direction to manage their teams and respective units. 

“We celebrate entrepreneurial spirit, innovation, and optimism,” excites Au. 

Furthermore, the demands of the company centre around finding and retaining incredible talent to lead all aspects of the business, which can be difficult in the hospitality sector. 

“It’s a challenging place to work because of our pace and intensity, but you learn a lot and have plenty of opportunities to grow and upskill,” he adds. 

In recognition of its staff base, the business holds quarterly recognition awards, in which it acknowledges the hard work of its employees across the entire scope of the organisation. 

Additionally, Kenny Hills recently introduced an earned wage access programme, in which team members can reap the added benefit of being able to access a small proportion of their salary before the end of the payroll cycle. 

Looking towards the rest of the year, the company strives to continue nurturing its ongoing relationships with a multitude of organisations and charities that work with the homeless, impoverished, and orphaned. 

Meanwhile, Kenny Hills also wishes to expand, develop, and enhance its existing infrastructure via the disciplined growth of its newest units. 

This will cement the company’s position as a frontrunner in the food and beverage industry, and a master of operational expansion in Malaysia.

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By Poppi Burke Project Manager
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By Lucy Pilgrim Deputy Head of Editorial
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Lucy Pilgrim is an in-house writer for Food & Beverage Outlook Magazine, where she is responsible for interviewing corporate executives and crafting original features for the magazine, corporate brochures, and the digital platform.