A Tale of Two Asian Concepts with Sights South of the Border


A Tale of Two Asian Concepts with Sights South of the Border - Kandessa

Two Asian-style dining chains, Panda Express and Sarku Japan, recently went south of the border in separate licensing deals.

Panda Express, an operator and franchisor of more than 1,400 quick serve Chinese-style restaurants, announced the opening of its first Mexican store on September 3 in the Gran Terraza Lomas Verdes shopping mall. This was made possible through a master development deal with Gigante Groupo, a retail developer and brand-franchising conglomerate. Gran Terraza is in Naucalpan de Juarez, a city just northwest of Mexico City. Panda Express is based in Rosemead, Calif.

A spokesperson for Panda Express, Jenny Campbell, said the new deal, originally signed in April with Gigante Grupo, ensures the opening of two additional units in 2012. They are actively searching for additional sites.

Gigante Grupo has already seen success with its Toks restaurant operation in Mexico, which has been serving up Mexican-style casual dining since 1971. The company posted a 19 percent total year-over-year sales increase in its more recent financial reporting period, and achieved two percent same store sales growth. Gigante Grupo also has a joint venture partner operating Office Depot stores in both Mexico and Colombia.

"In Mexico today, there is no clear leader in the Chinese fast casual industry,” said Bob Lustig, senior vice president of Panda Express International. “This expansion is an opportunity for Panda Express to launch this sector by bringing our Orange Chicken and other favorites to the Mexican consumer," said Lustig.

Campbell echoed the message, saying the partnership will position the concept for success. Panda Express restaurants are both in-line and in freestanding, like the second planned store in Mexico.

On September 7, Ontario-based Sarku Japan, a Teppanyaki-style eatery, announced it signed a master license agreement with Frisby, S.A., a restaurant operator with a chain of more than 120 Pollos Frisby restaurants with about 20 restaurants in Colombia. Grand openings at the first three Sarku Japan restaurants (Pereira, Medellin, and Cali) created long lines of enthusiastic customers. The company plans to open 1,000 new units over the next ten years.

Sarku Japan's foray into Columbia is its first. Also, it doesn't operate any stores in Mexico nor Central America. The concept—known for long customer lines and a loyal following in the Northeast and New England—previously expanded internationally to Vietnam.

Alredo Hoyos Mazuera, owner of Frisby, S.A., said he was pleased with the new locations. Frisby will open three more stores in Medellin, and one each in Cali and Bogota, bringing the total to five. Sarku Japan restaurants in Colombia.  According to company executives, the opening teams for the five new stores were trained with experienced Sarku Japan associates to ensure operational excellence.

"We're pleased that Frisby Corporation is enjoying early success in Colombia," said Ben Kitay, president of Sarku Japan. "Alfredo and his entire team of professionals at Frisby are the perfect partner for us in Colombia."

- - -


Copyright: Kandessa Media. All rights reserved.

Related Stories

This story appears in:  Fast Casual | Franchise & Licensing