Like an ang ku kueh left out in the open for too long, it seems the ties in this family have gone a little stale.
The second-generation owner of Ji Xiang Confectionery has clarified that there’s only one Ji Xiang stall – the one in Everton – and that other outlets sharing the same name are unrelated, according to a report by Shin Min Daily News on Thursday (Nov 23).
The 48-year-old owner, Toh Aik Ming, shared that he and his younger brother, Kelvin Toh, originally worked at the Everton stall.
However, Kelvin then decided to leave and open a shop separate named Ji Xiang Confectionery in Bugis two years ago with the support of family and friends.
Their mother, who founded the original Ji Xiang in 1988 alongside her husband Toh Poh Seek, helped Kelvin, now 42, get his new stall up and running by providing training and guidance to employees for up to nine months, Aik Ming told Shin Min.
Kelvin’s venture expanded to include more branches, all with the “Ji Xiang” name. However, Aik Ming started receiving feedback from customers that the quality of their confection had dropped.
Worried that these complaints would affect their business or even result in legal problems, Aik Ming decided to set the record straight, making clear the difference between Ji Xiang Confectionery and the Ji Xiang chain.
“My parents didn’t want to meddle in this at first,” Aik Ming admitted. “After all, we share the same blood. However, it’s still better to give a formal explanation.”
‘My family didn’t want to change’
Speaking with Shin Min, Kelvin said that the stores run by his brother and himself have different names.
He added that he would inform customers that he’s the younger son of Ji Xiang’s founder if they asked whether his stores are Ji Xiang Everton’s branches.
Kelvin dismissed claims that there were problems with the standard of his products, highlighting that there are no issues with the taste and quality of the ang ku kuehs.
“We make them all according to old recipes, and there are no problems if you buy directly from our stalls.
If you buy ang ku kuehs from a vendor that has left them overnight, however, the taste definitely won’t be as good as those made on the day itself.”
Kelvin also shared why he decided to branch out on his own.
“I used to work in the catering industry, and after 12 years of experience, I know that I have to rely on the internet and innovation to attract customers,” he said.
“But my family didn’t want to change, so I had no choice but to do it myself. It took me several months just to convince my family to create a website and Facebook page.”
He has been operating his business separately from his family and has rejected their attempts at providing him with financial aid, Kelvin said.
“Now, I just want to spread the name of ‘Ji Xiang’ so that many more people can try our ang ku kueh.”
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