Fri, Feb 03, 2012 - Page 12 News List

Wowprime lays out expansion plans

OVERCOMING OBSTACLES:The restaurant chain’s chairman says he loathes stock manipulation and forbids employees from flaunting their wealth with luxury items

By Crystal Hsu  /  Staf Reporter

Wowprime Corp (王品), which owns 11 restaurant brands in Taiwan and China, aims to develop into a global food and beverage giant, increasing its number of outlets to 300 this year from the current 218, top executives said yesterday.

“We expect the group’s economic scale, number of outlets and revenue to expand faster this year after posting a robust showing last year,” Wowprime vice chairman Endy Wang (王國雄) said during an investor conference ahead of the company’s initial public offering later this month.

The group, whose brands include Wang Steak (王品台塑牛排), Tasty (西堤), Tokiya (陶板屋), and restaurants specializing in hot pot and Japanese cuisine, as well as a number of cafes, reported NT$9.6 billion (US$325.09 million) in total revenue last year, a 36 percent increase from a year earlier, Wang said.

Taiwan, where Wowprime owns 174 outlets, generated 80 percent of the group’s income, the company’s report showed.

Despite its aggressive growth, Wowprime took a market share of 1.97 percent in a sector valued at NT$291.61 billion in 2010, suggesting ample room for growth, Wang said.

The increasing popularity of dining at restaurants in Taiwan bodes well for the sector and Wowprime, whose revenue picked up 35.75 percent in 2010, outpaced the 7.32 percent increase of its peers, Wang said, citing government data.

Eating out accounted for 36.8 percent of all money spent on food among Taiwanese consumers in 2010, compared with 35.8 percent in 2009 and 34.8 percent in 2008, government statistics showed.

“We intend to raise our number of outlets and franchises to 1,000 by 2020 and 10,000 by 2030,” Wang said.

The ambitious growth plans underpin the company’s listing, which will make franchising overseas more transparent and -accountable, said Wowprime chairman Steve Day (戴勝益), who said he loathes stock speculation and bans employees from trading the company’s shares for short-term gains or purchases of luxury items.

“A firm believer in Confucianism [on the cultivation of virtue], I forbid company officials from taking gifts from subordinates or owning luxurious cars worth more than NT$1.5 million,” Day said.

Meanwhile, Day said he encourages his employees to climb at least 100 mountains of more than three kilometers high and to visit 100 foreign countries during their lifetime. Day, who gives away 80 percent of his fortune to charitable causes, was voted by Taiwanese salaried workers in an online survey as their favorite boss.

Wowprime has NT$621.41 million in capital in Taiwan and US$12.18 million in China. The company has yet to reach a conclusion with its underwriter over the price or date of its offering, likely to take place later this month, company officials said.

Wowprime shares closed up 3.6 percent at NT$412 on the emerging stock market, topping its peers, according to GRETAI Securities Market data.

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