US chains keen on Thailand, Asean
Aug 24, 2015
More than 20 American food chains are planning to enter Thailand as a springboard to expand into its Asean neighbours. Sethaphong Phadungpisuth, managing director of Gnosis Co, a franchise consulting company, said among those interested were Arby’s sandwich chain with 3,400 branches worldwide; Denny’s, a family restaurant with 2,100 branches globally; Fuddruckers, a top-five American hamburger chain; PJ’s Coffee and Round Table pizza brand. These brands and other chains such as Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, Mosquito Squad and Wow Cafe will attend RetailEX FranchisEX Asean 2015 from Sept 17-19 at Impact Muang Thong Thani.
Apart from exploring franchise opportunities here, exhibitors from 20 countries will showcase the latest retail technology and innovative concepts and designs on 50,000 square feet. Retailers from Myanmar, Vietnam and Malaysia will join the event. “Asean is a prime target for franchise brands including American food chains as it’s an emerging market with rapid growth of middle-class people who have discretionary income,” Mr Sethaphong said. Asean people like to go to shopping malls, which are very big and air-conditioned with a lot of parking space. Food and beverages are still main drivers for malls. Thailand is a centre for Western franchise brands to expand their businesses into other Asean countries to cash in on opportunities from the coming Asean Economic Community, Mr Sethaphong said. “Thailand will be the hub of franchised food chains because the country has good facilities to support them. Moreover, Thai people can accept Western food chains,” he said. “Thailand will be the hub of franchised food chains because the country has good facilities to support them. Moreover, Thai people can accept Western food chains,” he said.
Gnosis believes there are a lot of opportunities for the franchise business in Thailand, where the market grows 15% per year on average. Demand is brisk because people want to have their own businesses. The franchise market in Thailand was valued at 185 billion baht with 477 brands in 2013. The top three categories were food (20.9%), beverages and ice cream (20.7%) and education (16.7%), according to the Business Development Department.
Mr Sethaphong said Thai food brands did not interest foreign investors because of the poor image of operators. Some had not taken care of their businesses before seeking foreigners. Gnosis is a franchise broker for Arby’s chain, which will re-enter Thailand in the near future. The brand has adjusted its business strategy for expansion into the Asean market. Apart from Thailand, Arby’s plans to establish a presence in the Philippines and Vietnam. Gnosis has the rights to be the representative of Arby’s in Thailand and Myanmar.
Two big Thai restaurant chains are planning to talk with Arby’s and Denny’s when their brand owners visit Malaysia at the end of this month. Besides US food chains, others from Dubai, Malaysia and Singapore are also interested in expanding here, including Shakespeare and Co, a Victorian cafe from the United Arab Emirates.
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