Sat, Apr 04, 2009 - Page 11 News List

Cross-strait chain store association sets up shop

STAFF WRITER, WITH CNA

A cross-strait association of chain stores on Thursday set up shop in Taipei with the participation of more than 300 Taiwanese chain stores and franchise operators based in Taiwan and China.

Sixty local operators formally inaugurated the association at a ceremony in Taipei City that the other China-based companies watched through the use of a video link in Shanghai.

Association convener Wang Kuo-an (王國安) said that by taking advantage of its good relations with major international investors, the association would build a platform to help franchise and chain store operators in Taiwan and China list on stock exchanges and over-the-counter markets.

The association will also promote cooperation between chain store and franchise operators in Taiwan and China, hold franchise trade shows and seminars, push for the formation of strategic alliances and provide other services.

Wang said many chains have attracted the attention of prominent investment fund managers because of their development potential in Taiwan and their ability to tap into the Chinese market, with some already having foreign shareholders.

Chains such as Yicha Yizuo Tea House (一茶一座), Bobodog (巴布豆), Real Brewed Tea House (仙蹤林), bathroom fixtures maker Hocheng Corp (和成), karaoke parlor operator Golden Jaguar Group (金錢�?Dio Coffee (迪歐咖啡), C. Straits Coffee (兩岸咖啡) and Tony Wear have sold stakes to foreign equity firms Carlyle and Goldman Sachs, Wang said.

Franchises such as family entertainment operator Tom’s World Amusement Corp (湯姆熊), 85°C Coffee, Ay-Chung Flour Rice Noodle (阿宗麵線) and SUSHI Group (爭鮮) are also expected to draw funds from foreign investors in the future, Wang said.

Others being eyed by foreign investors include houseware retailer Working House (生活工廠), Merry Spa (喜悅髮型) and Giraffe English School (長頸鹿).

Separately, the number of Chinese visitors on group tours coming from China to Taiwan increased by 53 percent last month compared to February, a report by the mainland-based semi-official China News Service said.

Judging from recent tallies, the report said, it is apparent that the daily tourist departures from China to Taiwan last month had exceeded an average of 1,000.

The report said the number of Chinese tourists to Taiwan was expected to increase markedly because starting in December, Chinese people from 25 cities and provinces, compared to 13 cities and provinces previously, were allowed to visit Taiwan.

The number of travel agencies authorized to organize tours to Taiwan also rose to 146, from 33 previously.

The newly added 113 travel agencies began arranging tours to Taiwan starting late last month, it said.

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