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Popeyes fails in Vietnam

Popeyes, the Louisiana-style fast food chain with a fried chicken focus, has failed in Vietnam after two years.

It is the first high profile foreign fast food brand to disappear from the market but a host of other foreign brands continue to trade there with mixed fortunes, including Carls Jnr, recent arrival Burger King, Buds ice cream, Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, KFC, Pizza Hut, Lotteria, Jollibee, Gloria Jeans, NYDC, Subway and Thai Express.

The two highest profile brands still missing from the market are McDonald’s and Starbucks, the latter subject of repeated rumours of imminent debut.

Popeyes opened its first store in June 2010 in the prime Ho Chi Minh City downtown mall Vincom. It had a highly visible location close to the overtrading Highlands Coffee and central escalators. But locals and expats alike appear to have shunned the chicken concept in a floor crowded with Asian and western food choices.

A second store opened at Parkson Pleminton in Lê Đại Hành St, District 11.

The closed Popeyes outlet in Vincom.

When it launched the chain planned 40 stores in five years, with seven planned for 2011. But the reality was it never grew beyond two and thus failed to achieve critical mass necessary for a fast food chain to succeed economically.

A local commentator told Inside Retail Asia the Popeye’s flavour did not suit the Vietnamese palate. Feedback on local Vietnamese language websites was not positive.

“I used to have Popeyes chicken at Parkson. It’s ok but it’s a little bit salty, and I had to take sauce myself,” said one customer.

Another: “The chicken is salty and the tomato sauce taste too bad. I’ll never go back again!”

The company also appeared to carry out little marketing.

Inside Retail Asia was unable to track down the franchisor for comment and its two landlords were unable to shed further light on the state of the business at the time of its closure.

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