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Cafe de Coral Group plans 20 new restaurants

Quick Service Restaurant giant Cafe de Coral Group says it plans to open at least 20 new outlets in Hong Kong in the current financial year as it seeks to revive profit growth.

The company this week revealed a three per cent increase in sales to HK$3.73 billion in the first half of the year, but a 14.7 per cent decline in profit to $207 million.

“Seizing the opportunity of a softer leasing market, our Cafe de Coral and Super Super Congee & Noodles chains will be more proactive in further expanding its network,” the company said in its stock exchange filing.

“Our team has been working on building greater network for our QSR platform with opening more than 20 shops in FY2015/16. We will also steer our current and new QSR concepts to

further drive a bigger market share in this segment. Lifestyle cafe kiosk Just About Food and new innovative take-away concepts in key commercial hubs are tailored to target the needs of busy working crowds. These new QSR concepts have also led us to higher efficiency in the backdrop of high rental cost and persistent labour shortage.”

Cafe de Coral Group’s QSR business in Hong Kong recorded a healthy turnover growth during the first half.

“Performance of our fast casual and casual dining business was, however, held back by the significant investment we ploughed in to support our continual expansion in this segment. The group’s overall performance for the period has, to some extent, reflected a downturn in retail sentiments, driven by the weakening economy. Some of the group’s restaurants in the major shopping precincts saw a slow recovery in the aftermath of the community disruptions since the last quarter of 2014.”

Despite the prevailing challenges, the group’s Hong Kong operations recorded turnover growth of four per cent to $3.12 billion. The Café de Coral chain saw its sales from comparable stores increase four per cent from the same period last year. The Super Super Congee & Noodles chain’s sales grew three per cent.

In the fast casual and casual dining sector, Oliver’s Super Sandwiches continued to generate positive comparable store sales growth.

“The Spaghetti House and Spaghetti 360˚, despite being affected by the temporarily weakened customer spending during the period, seized the opportunity to rejuvenate and strengthen our presence in the Italian dining sub-sector with The Spaghetti House re-launching its flagship store in Cityplaza, Hong Kong.

“Shanghai Lao Lao and Mixian Sense, our home-grown brands that underscore the group’s diversification strategy, reported an encouraging performance. During the period of review, both chains continued their trajectories of steady growth and reinforced our solid leap into the Chinese dining sub-sector.

Leveraging on the franchising model in our Japanese and Korean dining sub-sector, The Cup and Don Don Tei restaurants have opened in Hong Kong.

Mainland China ‘flat’

In Mainland China, Cafe de Coral’s fast food business growth was flat compared with last year and its casual dining business saw a steeper decline, “due to the rising tide of consumer reluctance to spend on higher priced meals”.

“We made the deliberate move to slow down our growth in scale and pace in the country.

“A balanced business portfolio with the right mix of our QSR, fast casual and casual dining and Mainland platforms will provide us with a greater room for expansion – a cornerstone of sustainable growth for the Cafe de Coral Group,” the company said.

“Business in Mainland China has remained stagnant and consumption patterns are changing. Aware of the market deteriorations, the group has carefully gauged local consumption behavior, with a prudent approach towards operating its business there, primarily the Cafe de Coral and The Spaghetti House chains. We have deliberately adjusted our expansion pace and consolidated our operations, closing underperforming stores as well as strengthening our infrastructures, systems and teams in pursuit of a viable, future-oriented growth strategy.”

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