Mon, Apr 15, 2013 - Page 13 News List

Wowprime to boost presence in China

BIG PLANS:The group aims to expand its total number of outlets to 393 by the end of this year, and is mulling new brand launches as well as stock market flotations

By Amy Su  /  Staff reporter, in Greater Taichung

Restaurant chain operator Wowprime Corp chairman Steve Day distributes ice cream at Lihpao Land amusement park in Greater Taichung on Saturday. The company hired the park for an employee family day attended by about 1,800 people. At the event, Day also announced a stock purchasing program for mid-level management aimed at retaining talented personnel.

Photo: Yang Ya-min, Taipei Times

Wowprime Corp (王品集團), which operates 13 restaurant chains with 286 outlets across Taiwan and China, says it expects revenue generated in China to reach the same level as its Taiwanese operations within five years, supported by a multi-brand expansion plan and stronger consumption potential in China.

Wowprime’s China sales reached NT$2.62 billion (US$87.35 million) last year, accounting for about 21 percent of the group’s consolidated revenue, up 37.19 percent from 2011, the firm’s data showed.

“Sales contributions from China may catch up with that from Taiwan within five years,” Wowprime chief executive officer Lobo Lee (李森斌) told a media briefing during the company’s annual gathering for its managers on Saturday.

Lee said he expected sales growth in China to accelerate about 40 percent this year, following the launch of the company’s two new brands in China at the end of last year — one for teppanyaki cuisine and the other for kaiseki cuisine.

The company is considering launching its next brand in China in the second half of next year at the earliest to target the mid-priced market, which is likely to be mainly developed in third-tier and fourth-tier Chinese cities, he added.

In addition, the group’s Chinese subsidiary, Hoprime Ltd (合品), may go public in either China or Hong Kong in 2015, as Wowprime seeks to expand and boost brand awareness in China.

The company said it would formulate a more detailed plan for the potential listing by the end of the year.

On Saturday, Wowprime also announced it will launch an employee stock ownership trust plan this month to help retain key personnel in the group.

The plan allows every employee in a managerial position to allocate up to 3 percent of their monthly salary to purchasing Wowprime shares, with the group offering a 10-fold subsidy on top of the amount.

Therefore, an employee receiving a monthly salary of NT$50,000 could purchase 1,000 Wowprime shares in about two years.

“We hope the plan can help the company to retain talented people,” Wowprime chairman Steve Day (戴勝益) said.

Day maintained an optimistic view of the group’s sales and profitability this year, citing recovering consumption from December last year amid the nation’s tentative economic recovery.

The group — which operates 227 outlets in Taiwan and 59 in China — aims to expand its total number of outlets in Taiwan and China to 393 by the end of this year, with restaurants in Taiwan expected to reach 300.

Following the expansion, the group is set to recruit 3,000 new employees this year, Day said, adding that he expects to offer starting monthly salaries of NT$30,000 to new recruits.

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