Xu Jie, reporter of this newspaper

Trainee reporter Li Jing

Following the "wave of closures" of bakeries that began at the end of last year, the new Chinese dim sum brand Hutou Bureau Standard Chartered Cake Shop (hereinafter referred to as "Hutou Bureau") fell into a storm of closure. From the darling of capital to being rumored to go bankrupt, what happened to the tiger head bureau?

Hutou Bureau: The online store is operating normally

On the evening of March 3, a "product manager Jason" who claimed to work in Hutou Bureau broke the news on social platforms, saying that Hutou Bureau began to lay off more than 30,4 employees since April last year, and has been in arrears of employees' wages for 1000 and a half months since November; The arrears of supplier payments, rent, loans, and wages may be as high as 11 million yuan, and the company is on the verge of bankruptcy. "It wasn't until this week that we learned that the boss was going to run away, that the company was going to go out of business, and that the salary was going to be returned."

Below the post, a suspected employee of Hutou Bureau said, "I have owed wages for more than 4 months, and I hope to get my wages back" and "I have applied for arbitration and don't know if I can get it back."

In response to relevant rumors, Hutoubureau's Tmall flagship store issued a statement on March 3, saying, "Recently, some Internet users have spread some false remarks about Hutoubureau Standard Chartered Cake on social platforms, which has caused serious adverse effects on tiger fans and brand operations, as well as misunderstandings and doubts in many aspects." "All store marketing and operations are in normal operation. All sales orders in the e-commerce channel are shipped in an orderly manner within the compliance scope of the platform without any delay. The store's pre-sale, in-sale and after-sales have customer service teams from 31:8 to 00:24 to provide rapid response and professional services."

The statement also reminds consumers not to be misled and used by some pompous false information from well-intentioned people. However, this "debunking" is limited to online operations and does not mention offline stores.

In this regard, the reporter of "Securities Daily" called the relevant phone number of Hutou Bureau, but as of press time, the phone was not connected. The reporter of "Securities Daily" contacted the official customer service at the Tmall flagship store, and the customer service said that the e-commerce sector is currently not affected by the offline situation, and all orders can be delivered within the time frame agreed by the platform. When asked about the offline store, the customer service staff said that other questions could not be told.

According to network news, on March 3, the headquarters of Hutou Bureau in Shanghai Green Valley Plaza has been empty, the computers and other equipment in the office have been emptied, only some of the personal belongings of employees remain, and employees have successively entered and exited to handle the resignation procedures. Some on-site employees revealed that Hutou Bureau has owed more than 31 million yuan in office rent, and some personnel will move to the R&D department to work together.

It is worth mentioning that the "crisis" of the tiger head bureau has long been revealed. In November last year, Hutou Bureau successively closed some regional stores. According to the data of the third platform, the business status of all Hutou Bureau's stores in Chongqing and Chengdu is "closed and closed". The reporter of "Securities Daily" learned on a third-party platform that at present, a total of 11 tiger bureaus across the country show "normal business", and the rest show "closed and closed". This is more than 13 stores at the peak of Hutou Bureau.

"The reason why Hutou Bureau has the current situation is related to the current weak market demand, and the project itself is in the early stage of continuous investment, or the capital chain is broken, so that it cannot continue to operate." Shen Meng, a strategic analyst at Guangke Consulting, told the "Securities Daily" reporter.

"Hutou Bureau has not done a solid job in the supply chain, products, and service system. It is rubbing the wind of the industry and rubbing the dividends of consumption, so if there is no support from capital, the brand has a crisis. Zhu Danpeng, a senior researcher at the China Food Industry Research Institute, told the Securities Daily reporter.

The baking market has broad development prospects

The "crisis" of the tiger head bureau is not unique. On March 3, Christine, a well-known bakery chain brand, announced that the group had tight cash flow and encountered operating difficulties, delayed in paying store rent, supplier payments, and employee salaries, and was currently relying on shareholder loans to maintain operations. Christine said the group had temporarily closed all of its retail stores since December last year.

On February 2, "Onsi" issued a notice saying that from January 16 this year, online and offline business has been forced to stop production and business; On February 1, Momo Dim Sum Bureau also began to close its stores and shrink. It is reported that the Momo Dim Sum Bureau Beijing Chongwen store and R&F Plaza store have been closed.

It is understood that the "closure wave" of bakeries has begun on a large scale since last year. In January last year, Yizhiduo's official WeChat account announced that all its directly operated stores had ceased to operate; In March last year, Taiwanese chain bakery brand 1°C closed all its stores in Wuhan and completely withdrew from the Wuhan market, after closing stores in many mainland cities one after another; In July last year, high-end bakery brand LadyM announced that it would cease operations Chinese mainland all its stores.

"If the catering industry does not do a good job in brand operation, product innovation and upgrading, and iteration, coupled with asset-heavy store expansion, it is easy to drag itself down." Zhu Danpeng said.

For the current problems faced by the baking market, Zhang Yi, CEO of iMedia Consulting, told the "Securities Daily" reporter, "The baking market is heavy on marketing, but the quality of the product itself has not been blessed, in addition, the biggest problem in baking is that the product homogeneity is serious, the product overlap of major brands is high, in addition, the increase in costs, the difficulty of operation and management and other problems are common problems faced by the baking industry." ”

However, backed by a market of hundreds of billions of yuan, the development prospects of the baking market are still broad. According to iMedia consulting data, it is expected that the size of China's baked goods market will reach 3069.9 billion yuan this year.

It is understood that since the beginning of this year, the baking track has received 4 financings. Among them, Standard Chartered Cake Shop received a new round of financing of about tens of millions of yuan in January. In February, Taoxi received millions of yuan in strategic financing; Huanniu Cake House completed a series A financing of nearly 1 million US dollars; Luxi River completed its first financing, with a financing amount of hundreds of millions of yuan.

For the future development prospects of the baking industry, Zhang Yi said that the growth of the baking industry is still expected, but for enterprises, how to adjust their strategy and how to adapt to the current market environment requires thinking about the entire industry. (Securities Daily)