MK Restaurant Group pins hopes on Japanese brand

MK Restaurant Group aims to expand its Yayoi Japanese restaurant chain to 300 outlets and double sales to THB6 billion (US$174.6 million) over the next five to six years.

Its plan is to open 20 to 25 Yayoi outlets a year going forward, says MK COO for development Somchai Hanjitkasem. This will entail an investment of THB600-900 million.

MK has rights to expand the Japanese brand Thailand and Singapore for 11 years. Thailand was the first international market for Yayoi before it entered Singapore, Taiwan and the US. Thailand is its largest market outside Japan.

MK plans to spend THB140-175 million this year on new Yayoi restaurants, taking the number of branches to about 185 by year-end. About 60 per cent will be in Bangkok with the rest upcountry.

Yayoi sales grew by 14 per cent to THB2.9 billion last year, slightly higher than projected. The growth came from expansion widening the customer base, particularly outside of the capital and in major tourist destinations.

Somchai says there is huge potential to grow Yayoi in Thailand as the chain holds less than 20 per cent of Thailand’s THB20-billion Japanese restaurant business.

To broaden its coverage, MK is planning to develop a more bareboned Japanese restaurant concept with lower prices than Yayoi. The plan is intended to help the company gain faster return on investment and speed up the pace of expansion.

Four Yayoi restaurants are planned for Singapore this year to take the total there to 13. This will involve an investment of more than THB8 million for each outlet.

Meanwhile, the company is studying the feasibility of opening Yayoi restaurants in Vietnam.

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