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Zen Restaurants target expansion into CLMV markets

Zen Restaurant Group plans to expand into Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam (CLMV), hoping to set up a few restaurants in two or three countries within the next two years via joint ventures with local partners.

The company is confident in the purchasing power of CLMV residents and plans to continue with its restaurant expansion plan amid competition from rivals from Singapore and Malaysia, said brand director Jiradej Winthai.

The business prospects in the CLMV market look encouraging for operators of restaurants as the competition in the initial stage is less intense for those who are quick to seize the opportunities when there are still few rivals. However, the investment outlay is higher than in Thailand because of foreign investment regulations and other related laws, Jiradej said.

The company plans to add six more restaurants in Thailand this year at an average cost of Bt15 million each. Zen Restaurant Group hopes to have 100 restaurants within the next two years.

It also plans to increase the number of branches under the Zen Restaurant brand to 50, from 28 currently (24 of them in Bangkok). This expansion will be in line with the new shopping malls coming on stream in metropolitan Bangkok and upcountry.

The company has spent an average of Bt5 million to renovate its existing restaurants to give them a more trendy look to appeal to a younger group of clients, targeting the 35-45 age group instead of those aged 40-50. The renovation of the 28 existing restaurants should be completed within two years.

The company targets revenue of Bt1.2 billion, or 20-per-cent growth over last year's Bt1.1 billion. The Zen brand will contribute 65 per cent of the revenue and the lifestyle group 15 per cent.

Total sales in the first five months of this year met targets and were unaffected by the weaker domestic purchasing power as the target groups of clients are mostly in an income group that is less vulnerable to economic factors.

This year's total revenue for the entire Zen Restaurant Group should touch the Bt2-billion mark compared with Bt1.7 billion in 2013, Jiradej said.


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