Coca Holding International Co, operator of the Coca sukiyaki and Mango Tree restaurant brands, is ramping up its international expansion to reduce risk incurred from the prolonged pandemic and outbreaks of coronavirus variants.
Natalie Phanphensophon, the company’s chief operating officer, said the company plans to open a total of 13 new Mango Tree restaurant businesses through a franchise system this year, up from eight new restaurants last year that opened in China, Japan and Vietnam.
Of the 13 new Mango Tree restaurants to be opened this year, 3-4 branches will be in Japan, two branches will be in Vietnam, one will be in the Philippines, while the remainder will be in China and Hong Kong.
“There is a huge opportunity to open Thai dining restaurants overseas, especially in China because the competition for Thai cuisine chains is very low while local consumption is booming due to Chinese customers not yet being allowed to travel abroad. We opened two Mango Tree restaurants in China last year — both have received better-than-expected responses from Chinese customers,” Ms Natalie said.
She said the company has shifted its focus to expanding business abroad because she is not confident about the situation for the food industry in Thailand after the number of Omicron cases has reportedly been increasing in the country.
“Thailand’s food industry is confronting many problems from the outbreak of the new virus variants to labour shortages and higher operating costs. We believe that Thailand’s food and beverage sector will recover only once there is spending from foreign tourists,” said Ms Natalie.
There are 54 Mango Tree branches in total using five formats in 13 countries. Of the total, 30 branches are in Japan and the remainder are in the UK, Japan, China, Vietnam and Hong Kong.
“Before the first Mango Tree restaurant opened in London 25 years ago, nobody knew of Thai cuisine over there,” she said. “Now it has become more popular. Thai food has won a warm welcome from international customers and it is second to none.”
According to Ms Natalie, there is a lot of room to expand Mango Tree overseas because Thai cuisine is very flavourful with various tastes and textures.
In addition to Asian countries, Ms Natalie is interested in expanding Mango Tree restaurant in the Middle East market this year because people there have high purchasing power and the company has yet to sign up any franchisees to open Thai restaurants in that region. The company is now in talks with partners in the food and beverage business in Saudi Arabia and expects to finalise a deal sometime this year.
BANGKOK POST (Pitsinee Jitpleecheep)