Tue, Sep 30, 2014 - Page 14 News List

Wowprime to take barbecue chain to US

By Amy Su  /  Staff reporter

Restaurant chain operator Wowprime Corp (王品集團) yesterday inked an agreement with US-based Panda Restaurant Group Inc (PRG) to form a joint venture to expand its barbecue restaurant brand Yakiyan (原燒) market to the US.

The joint venture is to be launched in the second quarter next year at the earliest, the companies said.

The companies have pooled initial capital totaling US$1.5 million for the joint venture, Yakiyan USA, with Wowprime holding a 25 percent stake. PRG holds the remaining 75 percent.

“We aim to open five Yakiyan restaurants within three years, with the first outlet set to be launched in the main commercial area of California in the second quarter next year,” PRG founder and chairman Andrew Cherng (程正昌) told a media briefing after the signing ceremony.

Cherng said the barbecue market in the US still lacks brands capable of providing high-quality food and service, leading to PRG’s decision to introduce the Yakiyan brand to the country.

Yakiyan USA has set the primary customer target at people aged between 25 and 49, as well as families, with initial transaction per customer expected to average US$25 to US$30.

Compared with Taiwan, Yakiyan USA sees stronger growth potential in alcohol and beverage sales, which could account for 20 percent of company sales, to raise profitability.

Wowprime chairman Steve Day (戴勝益) remained bullish on the brand’s development in the US over the near future, expecting the joint venture to start earning profits within three months of its opening date, with its annual revenue to exceed more than US$1 million in the first year of operation.

Yakiyan is Wowprime’s fourth brand to be licensed overseas, following 12 Sabu (石二鍋), Tokiya (陶板屋) and Sufood (舒果).

Wowprime, which operates 15 restaurant chains with a total of 401 outlets in Taiwan, China and Singapore as of the end of last month, saw consolidated sales in the first half of this year reach NT$11.7 billion (US$383.7 million), up 18.81 percent from the same period last year and 18.67 percent from a year earlier, a company statement said.

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