Upclose with Mohd Fadhli Abdul Rahman

Group Chief Executive Officer of Brahim’s Holdings Berhad (BHB)

Mohd Fadhli Abdul Rahman, who assumed his current CEO role since 2018, was formerly BHB’s Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer, holding both positions at the same time.

Coupled with his in-depth knowledge in corporate finance and operational accounting, the 41-year-old, who hails from Bukit Mertajam, has vast experience in management positions and diverse exposures ranging from manufacturing, construction, retail and trading to fast-moving consumer goods products.

With his forte in negotiations, he managed to save millions of Ringgit, including utility bills, for the company and is still raring to achieve more.

What are some of the poignant moments in your almost seven years with BHB?

When I joined in October 2017, the Group was in financial distress due to the effects of amortisation of goodwill. The first thing I did was to clean up the accounts.

We managed to sustain the businesses regardless of the turmoil then. The storms continued and next thing, we were struck by the COVID-19 pandemic but we survived this difficult period.

Please share with us more details about some of the achievements?

Taking over SATS Investments Pte Ltd’s shares of 49% in 2022 was a great achievement for the Group. The buy- out process involved many layers of negotiation, with the success of this transaction providing us with huge savings. The ability to continue to renew catering contracts with major foreign carriers is another milestone for us and we do not compromise on quality.

We are certified MS ISO 9001, ISO 22000 and MS 1480 HACCP, which stands for Hazard Analysis and Critical Point to ensure the management of food safety. Additionally, we have the BRC Global Standard certification for food safety.

How have your previous job experiences equipped you for your current responsibilities?

With accounting as my background, I have been dealing with numbers most of the time. It is critical for someone in my position and responsibilities to be well versed with numbers. Having the opportunity to deal with different people from various backgrounds has helped to build up my character to face the challenges in my job.

Who does your company provide food catering to currently?

Our active customers are 35 foreign carriers, including most of the airlines from the Gulf Cooperation Council member states.

They include Qatar Airways, Emirates, Turkish Airlines, Oman Air, Mahan Air and Iraqi Airways. We also serve All Nippon Airways, Japan Airlines, Korean Air, Eva Air, Xiamen Airlines, Silk Way West Airlines, Cathay Pacific Airways, China Southern Airlines, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Ethiopian Airlines, Turkmenistan Airlines and Himalayan Airlines.

Recent additions to our customer base are flydubai and Air Macau. We supply catering to the crew of cargo airlines such as Cargolux and FedEx as well. Do you know the pilot and co-pilot are served different meals to prevent both from getting ill and unable to fly?

As a total food solutions provider, what is BHB’s catering capacity like these days?

We have the biggest halal food facilities in the region. Depending on the operational structure and production method, we are capable of producing up to 75,000 meals daily. With inflight catering picking up volume and the travel bug gaining momentum, we expect to be back on track to pre-pandemic numbers before the end of 2024.

What are the challenges that beset airline catering and how do you hope to overcome them?

Demanding passengers will translate to airlines making demands on their suppliers. However, as long as the airlines are open to a two-way communication with us on their menu and services required, we are on the right track.

To me, every day is a learning process. We need to expose ourselves to the best international practices in this business and learn from each other. Our continuous engagement with our previous partners, SATS and LSG, has availed us with opportunities to improve ourselves.

Besides handling inflight catering, what other businesses are BHB involved in?

We do not just provide food to the airlines under Brahim’s Food Services Sdn Bhd (BFS), formerly known as Brahims SATS Sdn Bhd. Inflight catering includes cabin handling services for linen, pillows, blankets, headsets, newspapers and periodicals.

BFS contributes about 95% to BHB Group’s revenue while the rest comes from our subsidiary, Tamadam Industries Sdn Bhd, which provides warehousing and logistics services in Port Klang. Our recent involvement is into offshore catering services for the oil and gas companies.

How do you view the termination of Malaysia Airlines Bhd’s (MAB) catering contract on August 31 last year and what are the lessons learned?

MAB remains our 30% partner in BFS with the remaining 70% shares owned by us. The break-up is unfortunate but I believe we have delivered our best and still value their business. The best lesson from this is to get up again and move forward. If we can survive the pandemic, where we hit rock bottom, we can surely survive this termination. Furthermore, we still have 35 other airlines to service and are now vying for new contracts.

What is the latest on BHB’s financial performance?

It is a blessing BHB reported a profit for the financial year ended December 31, 2023. We expect to improve our performance in 2024, with BFS’s restructuring exercise expected to take place soon.

Tell us more about BFS restructuring.

Some potential capital injection as well as merger and acquisition are expected to take place, subject to shareholders’ approval and the success of the negotiations. It will be an exciting journey for BFS.

How big is BHB’s current staff force?

As an investment holding company, BHB has a very limited staff. On the other hand, BFS has 550 under full- time employment besides having around 100 vendors. Under Tamadam Industries, a one-stop warehouse, logistics, forwarding and supply chain solutions provider, we have about 50 staff.

What are some awards received by the Group?

Our latest recognition as the Best Improved Caterer Worldwide was received by BFS from Japan Airlines under the Hygiene Quality Award category. Last year, Brahim’s Dewina Group of Companies bagged the Malaysia Global Business Icon Leadership Award. Another award was for the Global Muslim Business Distinguished Entrepreneur Lifetime Achievement Award. Brahim’s Dewina Group was also recognised at the Malaysia Tourism Industry Award 2022 for Best International Promotion of Malaysian Cuisine.

Moving forward, what do you wish to achieve?

Bringing the group out of the current difficult situation would be my short-term objective. I will be turning 42 years old in December and would love to achieve more, including creating more inspiring stories for my three children to follow in my footsteps.

Besides golf, what are your other hobbies?

I am more of an amateur and social golfer. I am passionate about automobiles, in particular sports utility vehicles, and motorcycles plus the technologies surrounding them. I also enjoy reading and watching serials and movies.

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