The moment staff in an Orchard Road hotel found out that Mr Jeffrey Welch was the president of Krispy Kreme International when he checked in, they asked him: What took the American doughnut chain so long to get here?
Indeed, these sentiments have been echoed by others, going by the buzz and excitement ahead of the opening this morning of Singapore's first Krispy Kreme outlet, at the basement of Tangs Orchard. The 1,200 sq ft store opens at 9am and the first three people in line will be entitled to free doughnuts every week, for up to a year.
On why the popular chain, which has offshoots worldwide and in Asian countries such as Japan, Thailand and Indonesia, is opening here only now, Mr Welch, 59, says: "We had a lot on our plate. We have grown from zero to 550 stores in 24 countries in about seven years. So we were pretty busy.
"We had looked at other opportunities to come to Singapore but it was important that we came in with the right franchisee. For us, it is better to be right than fast." Mr Welch, who is responsible for the chain's overseas markets, adds that Singapore, being a "cosmopolitan" country where "people are well- travelled, conscious and brand oriented", has been a market that the company had been eyeing since it opened in Indonesia in 2006.
The chain is famed for its fluffy doughnuts coated in a signature sugar glaze.
There are about 550 outlets outside of the United States in countries that span Britain to India. Its first outlet in Asia opened in South Korea in 2004. Prices here start at $2.60 for an Original Glazed doughnut, and from $23.40 for a dozen of them.
The same doughnut is priced at US$0.99 (S$1.24) each in the US and from about A$2.50 (S$2.96) in Australia, where the price varies depending on the outlet. In Singapore, prices of doughnuts at other popular chains here such as J.Co and Dunkin' Donuts start at $1.70 each.
Behind Singapore's Krispy Kreme franchise is retail and distribution business Star 360 Holdings. Brands under its retail-distribution umbrella, which spans Asia Pacific, include Japanese labels Asics and Onitsuka Tiger.