Wowprime aims to expand brand into US market

By Amy Su  /  Staff reporter

Sat, Nov 16, 2013 - Page 13

Restaurant chain operator Wowprime Corp (王品集團), which operates 14 restaurant chains with 342 outlets in Taiwan and China, aims to expand one of its brands into the US next year.

“We may enter the US market next year by forming a joint venture with a restaurant group there,” Wowprime chairman Steve Day (戴勝益) told reporters on the sidelines of a celebration of the company’s 20th anniversary.

Day said one of the US’ five major restaurant operators had contacted Wowprime about cooperation.

The brand likely to be introduced in the US is vegetarian restaurant Sufood (舒果), teppanyaki chain Hot 7 or hotpot restaurant 12 Sabu (石二鍋), he said.

Prior to entering the US market, the company is preparing to license its Sufood brand business in another Asian country by the end of the year via a joint venture, with Wowprime owning up to a 30 percent stake in the venture, he added.

The move would make Sufood the company’s second brand to be authorized in a country outside the Greater China region, after the group licensed its Tokiya (陶板屋) restaurant chain to a Thailand-based company in 2010.

The company will sign a contract with a potential partner on Nov. 28 to target on market in Malaysia, Indonesia, Japan or the Philippines, according to Day.

Wowprime reported a net profit of NT$269.05 million (US$9.08 million), or NT$3.6 per share, in the third quarter, down from NT$314.5 million, or NT$4.21 per share, during the same period last year.

The company attributed the decline to lower operating profits from its business in China, as the move to unveil two new brands in the country this year increased its operating expenditure.

From January to September, net income rose 8.79 percent from a year earlier to NT$872.3 million, or earnings per share of NT$11.67, the company said.

However, other listed restaurant operators in Taiwan saw mixed earnings last quarter.

The Tai Tong Food & Beverage Group (TTFB, 瓦城泰統集團) — operator of three restaurant chains with about 60 outlets — posted NT$75.22 million, or NT$3.23 per share, in net income last quarter, the highest level in the company’s history and up 22.3 percent from a year earlier, the company said.

For the first nine months of the year, net income totaled NT$214.4 million, or NT$9.21 per share, up from NT$148.19 million, or NT$8.17 per share, recorded during the same period last year, TTFB data showed.

Gourmet Master Co (美食達人), which owns cafe and bakery chain 85°C, saw its net income in the first nine months of the year decline by more than 40 percent from last year on the impact of the company’s focus in structure adjustment this year.

Net income totaled NT$482.41 million, or NT$3.42 per share, from January to September, compared with NT$814 million, or NT$5.77 per share, recorded a year ago, company data showed.

For last quarter alone, Gourmet Master’s net profit was NT$157.62 million, or NT$1.12 per share, down from NT$255.06 million, or NT$1.81 per share, a year earlier, data showed.