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Sunmoon: Transforming an Asset-Heavy Legacy Business Model


Set in 2016, this case presents the ten-year long journey undertaken by SunMoon to transform its legacy business model that had led the company to become a loss-making, cost-inefficient and debt-ridden entity in 2007.

Gary Loh, who joined the company in 2007, spearheaded the efforts to restructure the debt, modernise operations, and change the business model. However, the process was arduous, being besieged on one hand by financial issues such as capital inadequacy, downward spiral in revenues and increasing losses; and on the other hand by operational issues such as inter-personal conflicts, debt settlement challenges and labour unrest. 

The case further discusses how SunMoon, after having divested its non-performing assets and non-core businesses, set out to achieve its new strategic vision to be an asset-light, brand-focused, and consumer-oriented company. Its new business model centred on building and leveraging SunMoon’s brand equity, developing a larger retail network across more geographies and dealing in a wider range of products.

While SunMoon’s deal with Yiguo (Alibaba backed) - the leading fresh food e-commerce company in China, was a testament to its new model, fruits being a commodity product and the highly fragmented nature of the industry raised various concerns: Would SunMoon be able to become the industry benchmark in quality for both buyers and growers, and provide an aggregator platform like Uber or Airbnb? Would it be able to create the last mile connectivity with end-consumers and provide brand differentiation among them?

This case is designed for use by both undergraduate and postgraduate students. It will help students develop an understanding of the business model canvas, its key building blocks, and the challenges associated in a multi-sided market environment. The students would also learn the significance of branding in an industry driven by commodity products.

Inspection copies and teaching notes are available for university faculty. To receive an inspection copy and teaching note, please email with your registered faculty email ID and a link to your contact information on the faculty directory at your university as verification. An inspection copy and teaching note will then be sent to your faculty email account.


SMU Faculty/Staff can download the case & teaching note on iNet with your SMU login ID & Password via the following links:

·      The Case (SMU-17-0023)

·      Teaching Note (SMU-17-0023TN)

For purchase of the case and supplementary materials via The Case Centre, please access the following links:

·      The Case (SMU-17-0023)

·      Teaching Note (SMU-17-0023TN)

Published Date

8 Feb 2018


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