Restaurant chain operator Wowprime Corp (王品集團) is considering launching its first outlet in the US under its barbecue restaurant brand Yakiyan (原燒) in the first quarter of next year, a move to expand its market beyond Asia, a company executive said yesterday.
The project is a joint venture with a US company, Wowprime said.
That would make Yakiyan the third Wowprime brand to be licensed overseas, following Tokiya (陶板屋) in Thailand and Sufood (舒果) in Singapore.
“The official plan is set to be announced by the end of next month,” Yakiyan vice president John Wu (吳憲政) told a media briefing after celebrating the brand’s 10th anniversary yesterday.
Wu said the group has determined barbecue restaurants are popular in the US, boosting its confidence about Yakiyan’s future development in the US market.
“In the beginning, the brand’s US expansion is set to focus on the west coast of the US, where there are a higher percentage of Chinese and Taiwanese immigrants,” Wu said. “However, in the long run, we hope Yakiyan can break into the mainstream market in the US.”
Wu did not provide further details, but speculation has been rife for several months that Wowprime’s US expansion plan is set to be undertaken in collaboration with Panda Restaurant Group Inc — a restaurant chain serving American-Chinese cuisine — by forming a joint venture to license the Yakiyan brand.
Wowprime operates 24 Yakiyan outlets in Taiwan, with a new outlet to be launched next month at the Taimall Shopping Center (台茂購物中心) in Taoyuan, which would increase the number of outlets to 25.
The gradual expansion might help boost the brand’s sales this year to NT$930 million (US$30.96 million), from the NT$900 million seen last year.
Other than the expansion in the US, Wu said Yakiyan might focus on expanding into shopping malls or hypermarkets in Taiwan next year, aiming to increase the brand’s annual revenue to more than NT$1 billion.
Wowprime was operating 15 restaurant chains with 396 outlets as of the end of last month, including 297 outlets in Taiwan and 98 in China.
14.43 PERCENT DROP
The restaurant group’s net income in the first six months of the year totaled NT$516.21 million, or NT$6.71 per share, down 14.43 percent from NT$603.26 million, or NT$7.83 per share, in the same period last year, according to its filing to the stock exchange.