Yum China eyes Thailand with hotpot chain Little Sheep

Yum China looks to expand Asian footprint for hot-pot restaurant brand.

Quick-service restaurant firm Yum China Holdings is seeking entry into the Thai hotpot market, reportedly worth THB5 billion (US$156.7 million).

The company is seeking a local partner to launch its Little Sheep Mongolian hotpot chain in the territory.

“The food and beverage industry in Thailand is one of the most developed markets in the world,” said Yum’s senior specialist for franchise development Isa Jiang. “Thailand also has a rich history of hotpots, as well as food culture.”

Sixty-six Little Sheep outlets opened in China last year, as well as a further 10 abroad. Seventy of the openings were franchised. The restaurant is currently operated in 300 locations across 130 cities.

“Ma la, or Sichuan hot chillies, is growing in popularity with Thais,” said business advisory firm Gnosis MD Sethaphong Phadungpisuth, “and we believe that Little Sheep will fit well with Thai tastes.”

“Southeast Asia and the US have the highest projections for expansion this year,” observed Jiang. “We are focusing on Malaysia, the Philippines and Indonesia. Shabu restaurants are quite popular in Thailand, but we are confident in our key product’s characteristics, especially our meat and broth.”

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