Mon, Dec 24, 2012 - Page 13 News List

Wowprime plans further expansion

HUNGRY FOR GROWTH:Despite being affected by the slowing economy, the firm has ambitious growth plans for next year including expanding its operations in China

By Amy Su  /  Staff reporter

Wowprime chairman Steve Day, dressed as Santa Claus, poses with pupils from Miaoli County’s Jhuolan Elementary School yesterday.

Photo: CNA

Restaurant chain operator Wowprime Corp (王品集團) plans to accelerate its expansion in Taiwan and China next year on the back of the company’s general optimism about a potential economic recovery next year.

The faster pace of store expansion may help the total amount of outlets owned by Wowprime — which operates 11 restaurant chains, with 265 outlets in Taiwan and China — reach 1,000 units earlier than the target year of 2020 originally set by the company.

“2013 will be the first year for Taiwan’s economy to take off [due to the contribution of the service sector],” Wowprime chairman Steve Day (戴勝益) said at a charity event in Miaoli County held by the company yesterday.

In accordance with the company’s upbeat outlook, Wowprime is scheduled to set up 89 outlets in Taiwan and China next year — the highest level in company history — with 65 units in Taiwan and 24 in China, he said.

The expansion is likely to further increase the company’s demand for manpower, Day said, adding that Wowprime is set to hire about 3,600 employees next year.

Other than expansion of its outlets, Day said Wowprime will create one additional brand in Taiwan next year, while launching two parent brands in China — one for teppanyaki cuisine and the other for kaiseki cuisine — meaning the company will own a total of 14 food chains.

As of Saturday, the company had achieved annual revenue growth of 26 percent this year and was targeting between 20 percent and 30 percent growth for next year, he said.

In previous years, the restaurant-chain operator usually held year-end banquets to thank employees’ for their hard work during the year. However, the slowing of the economy this year caused the company to cancel its banquet plan and it instead gathered its employees at the charity event yesterday in Miaoli.

Even so, Day said employees could still see average pay increases of between 3 percent and 5 percent next year, although he did not specify what annual bonuses the company plans to distribute to employees this year.

Meanwhile, Day said Wowprime would implement a new policy next year to put 10 percent of income each year into a trust fund and use the fund to purchase the company’s shares to reward and retain key employees, such as store managers, chefs-in-chief and regional managers.

Wowprime posted NT$826.86 million (US$28.39 million) in net profit, or NT$12.42 per share, for the first three quarters of the year, with third-quarter net income hitting a record high of NT$317 million, or NT$4.68 per share, company data showed.

Nearly 1,000 of the company’s employees are expected to qualify for the stock purchase program, under which employees can contribute 3 percent of their pay and the company will put in 10 times that amount to buy Wowprime stock.

The company estimates that each employee could receive about 1,000 shares every two years.

Wowprime shares closed up 0.74 percent at NT$409 in Taipei trading on Saturday, rising 11.42 percent so far this year, Taiwan Stock Exchange data showed.

Additional reporting by CNA

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