No fun place to go and shop for kitchen cookware and gadgets in Hong Kong? Not any more! Pantry Magic opened its doors in January 2006 in the Pedder Building, Central and more recently in Causeway Bay on Hysan Street.

Robert Esser, Managing Director of Pantry Magic, saw a niche market in Hong Kong. He said, “there really wasn’t a place for people to celebrate the cooking lifestyles that North America and Europe were experiencing”. Esser, who is a chef, said that whenever he travelled in Asia he would ask chefs where they went to get professional cooking essentials. The answer was always a hodge podge of shops sometimes located in dingy locations or shops that really were set up for wholesale and not retail.

Mr. Esser starting doing his own research into the possibility of setting up a retail cookware shop. Approximately 90% of kitchenware is manufactured in China and then branded with the finest brands in the world. Esser knew that there was a market for cooking enthusiasts of every level and wanted to give them a retail experience where they could shop for kitchen cookware and gadgets all at affordable pricing.

A concept that required about US$1,000,000.00 in inventory as minimum orders from the factories were 488 pieces per item. Franchising seemed the only logical way to get Pantry Magic up and running. The business plan was to sell 6 stores and Pantry Magic in Taipei recently opened its 1,000 square foot shop. Plans for Pantry Magic Singapore will open 25 January 2007 and another in Shanghai in April 2007.

Long term goals? Robert Esser has a planned footprint of 18 stores, a modest but achievable goal, in major cities across Asia within the next 24 months.

Click here to listen to Robert Esser’s interview by The Hong Kong Trade Development Council titled, “Kitchen Magic Made in HK” (4/4/2006).

The Culinary Chase’s Note: I recall my first time entering Pantry Magic’s shop in the Pedder Building and thought, ‘what a pleasure to find so many kitchen items and in an environment that beckons you’.