Today, it’s not uncommon to stumble upon a KK Mart in nearly every town across Malaysia.However, the origins of this convenience store chain remain relatively unknown to many.

Founded in 2001 by Datuk Seri Dr KK Chai and his siblings, KK Mart had its humble beginnings as a single store occupying the ground floor of a shoplot at Kuchai Entrepreneurs Park.

In just two decades, the humble shop evolved into the second-largest convenience store chain in Malaysia, trailing only behind 99 Speedmart, which was established in 1987. That’s quite the climb to become a major convenience store chain!The starting capital? A mere RM60,000 — a testament to Chai’s vision and entrepreneurial spirit, driven by the saying, “There is no free lunch in this world”.

The convenience store began by serving areas such as the Klang Valley, Putrajaya, and Cyberjaya

Now, they have expanded their operations to include Melaka, Seremban, Perak, Sarawak, and more. They even have 24 stores in Nepal and India.

On top of that, they have since ventured into other industries, including cafés, automobiles, hospitality, personal care, real estate, and manufacturing.

If you haven’t been to a KK Mart outlet, the chain store provides 24-hour service for people to obtain their daily essentials

From affordable household products to food and drinks, there are over 9,000 varieties of items, including KK Mart’s in-house branded goods.Additionally, the stores frequently offer photocopying, top-up, and bill payment services via e-pay.

Despite being one of the major convenience stores in Malaysia, KK Mart still has a number of competitors

99 Speedmart has over 2,500 outlets nationwide.

7-Eleven was once the undisputed king of convenience stores in Malaysia. While they’ve been overtaken by the rapid expansion of locals chains like 99 Speedmart, they still maintain a significant presence with more than 2,400 stores nationwide.

Other notable convenience store chains in Malaysia include MyNews, CU, and FamilyMart.

Starting with the first KK Super Mart store in Jalan Kuchai Lama, Kuala Lumpur in 2001

Group founder and executive chairman Datuk Seri KK Chai conveyed his appreciation to all parties that had contributed to the company’s growth over the past two decades.

Chai said the success was achieved thanks to the company’s core values and the strong support from staff, business partners, suppliers and the media as well as government and non-government agencies.

“When we opened our first KK Super Mart, I never dreamt that we would reach this milestone and have our own Menara KK.

“Ultimately, it was market demand that led to KK Super Mart transitioning into opening 24 hours a day, giving convenience.

“Teamwork, integrity, tolerance and fighting spirit led us to provide the best service and quality.

“Our slogan is ‘We are united; no one is left behind’,” he added.

The KK Group of Companies aims for a listing on Bursa Malaysia within the next two years.

Chai believes the franchise model will help the young generation start their own business.

He said this would allow the group to develop outstanding entrepreneurs for Malaysia.

“We welcome more entrepreneurs to collaborate with KK Group so that we can support each other to fulfil our respective visions.”

He pointed out that convenience stores were an integral part of cities worldwide and there were opportunities for large-scale growth.

“Looking at the statistics, there should be at least 16,000 convenience stores for our population of 32 million,” he added.

Home-grown KK Mart’s rise from solitary store to convenience empire

From humble beginnings in Kuchai Lama, Kuala Lumpur, the chain is now the second-largest in the grocery business, having overtaken heavyweight 7-Eleven.

KK Super Mart, more commonly known as KK Mart, has been thrown into the spotlight since the discovery of several pairs of socks bearing the word “Allah” at one of its outlets.

The convenience store chain’s founder and executive director KK Chai made a tearful apology over the matter, followed by the socks supplier, Batu Pahat-based Xin Jian Chang Sdn Bhd, which said the product was imported from China.

FMT takes a look at the company’s growth in two decades from a single store in Kuchai Lama, Kuala Lumpur, to the second-largest convenience store chain in Malaysia, behind 99 Speed Mart which was founded in 1987.

Chai and his siblings set up the first KK Mart outlet with RM60,000 in capital at the ground floor of a Kuchai Lama shop lot in January 2001.

The company then rapidly expanded over the years, with hundreds of branches mushrooming in and around the Klang Valley, before branching out to other parts of the country.

Currently, there are nearly 800 KK Mart outlets across the country, according to the company’s website, the majority of them located in the Klang Valley, Melaka, Negeri Sembilan, Johor, Pahang, Perak and Sarawak.

KK Mart has also expanded its reach to South Asia, opening up 21 outlets in Nepal and three in India, while the KK Group ventured into other industries, including auto parts, food and beverage, hospitality, and even the beauty and wellness sector.

Homegrown competitor to top 2 player

Its surge in popularity and demand led to KK Mart’s emergence as one of the main players in the convenience store sector, and homegrown to boot.

The sector used to be dominated by 7-Eleven Malaysia, which had Berjaya Corp as its largest shareholder, until overtaken by the growth of KK Mart and fellow convenience store chains 99 Speed Mart Sdn Bhd and MyNews Holdings Bhd.

Competition in the industry got stiffer with the entrance of other foreign names, particularly Japan’s FamilyMart and South Korean convenience store CU, which are operated by QL Resources Berhad and MyNews, respectively

The influx of competitors did not seem to hinder KK Mart’s growth however, as the company continued its expansion across the nation with its sights set on setting up 1,000 branches in Malaysia.

It eventually became the second-largest chain of convenience stores in Malaysia, behind 99 Speed Mart with its over 2,500 outlets nationwide.

KK Mart hit the ground running after the Covid-19 lockdowns were lifted, setting in place plans to open 10 stores every month in 2021 with the company generating nearly RM1 billion in revenue a year.

It also signed a memorandum of understanding with another Korean retail chain, GS25, in July 2022 for the latter’s foray into Malaysia, although this did not bear fruit with the agreement scrapped a year later.

In May 2023, The Edge quoted Chai as saying that KK Mart could be listed on Bursa Malaysia “within one to three years, when the time is right”.

Socks and the political spiral

KK Mart’s current prominence began with a social media posting, which then sparked off a spiral of political movement.

  • March 13 – Independent preacher Firdaus Wong posts photos of socks bearing the word “Allah” being sold at a KK Mart outlet in Bandar Sunway. KK Mart issues an apology six hours later, saying the product was a consignment item from a vendor.
  • March 14 – KK Mart lodges a police report.
  • March 15 – Umno Youth chief Dr Akmal Saleh calls for a public boycott of KK Mart outlets.
  • March 16 – At a press conference, KK Mart founder KK Chai, vendor Xin Jian Chang’s owner Soh Chin Huat, and KK Mart’s top management make a public apology at a press conference. They say the socks were imported from China.
  • March 17 – Akmal and other Umno Youth leaders lodge police reports. Religious affairs minister Na’im Mokhtar confirms that the police, Islamic development department, and domestic trade and cost of living ministry are probing the matter.
  • March 18 – Inspector-General of Police Razarudin Husain says KK Mart’s management will be summoned to assist in the investigation.
  • March 19 – The Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Sultan Ibrahim, expresses his displeasure over the controversy and calls for stern action to be taken against those responsible.
  • March 20 – Xin Jian Chang’s factory in Batu Pahat is temporarily closed.
  • March 21 – The Batu Pahat Municipal Council says it has revoked the vendor’s business licence, but Xin Jian Chang says the licence is valid until it submits a written statement to the council for its alleged non-compliance with its licence terms.
  • March 22 – The police investigation paper is referred to the Attorney-General’s Chambers. Separately, a 35-year-old man is jailed six months and fined RM12,000 over a Facebook post related to the issue deemed insulting to Islam.
Subscribe To Our Telegram Channel :
The Coverage Malaysia