Wed, Apr 18, 2012 - Page 12 News List

Franz Collection branches out to dining business

EXPANSION:The functional and home decor retailer opened its first cafe at the Taipei Fine Arts Museum and plans to build on its new revenue stream in China

By Crystal Hsu  /  Staff reporter

Franz Collection Inc (法藍瓷), Taiwan’s maker and retailer of functional and home decor accessories, yesterday expanded into the dining business, which is expected to help elevate overall revenue this year by 20 to 30 percent from last year, chief executive Franz Chen (陳立恆) said.

The Taipei-based company, winner of awards at home and abroad, yesterday opened its first cafe in the Taipei Fine Arts Museum on Zhongshan N Road Sec 3 in an attempt to inject the venue with creative ambiance.

Chen said the company plans to open its second cafe in Shanghai, China, next month and is in partnership talks with logistics firms in Taiwan and China to set up more Franz Cafes across the Taiwan Strait.

Easily copied and franchised at relatively low cost, Franz Cafe may soon appear in central Taiwan and Chinese cities such as Chongqing, Changsha, Anwei and elsewhere.

“We aim for Franz Cafes to function as gathering venues where customers can brainstorm creative ideas with drinks served from their choice of Franz tea sets at prices lower than at Starbucks,” Chen said, adding the commercial space would also showcase other award-winning Taiwanese gifts amid pleasant music.

The new source of income may help the company to grow its total revenue this year by between 20 and 30 percent from about NT$3 billion (US$101.55 million) last year, Chen said.

The figure represented a pickup of more than 20 percent at more than 6,000 retail outlets in 53 countries from 2010, despite a lackluster global economy since the third quarter, he said.

China generated 50 percent of sales, followed by other overseas markets in the US and Europe at 40 percent and Taiwan at 10 percent, company data showed.

“First-quarter revenue expanded 20 percent in both Taiwan and China, but declined about 9 percent in advanced markets,” Chen said. “The stalling economy in Europe and the US cast a shadow over the growth target.”

To buffer shrinking sales in the West, Franz is seeking to expand its sales channel this year to include the world’s upscale hotels, while strengthening cooperation with department stores and traditional retail space for home decoration products, Chen said.

Franz products will be available for sale at Palace Hotel Tokyo, which is scheduled to open on May 17 near the Tokyo Imperial Palace, he said.

Meanwhile, the company is discussing cooperating with several other international hotels, Chen said.

“The extended sales channel underpins our confidence that the growth target is achievable,” he said.

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