Talks are underway to expand the Mexican-inspired fast-food restaurant chain Taco Bell into Southeast Asia.
The Thai franchisee of the chain, Siam Taco, is said to be in early talks with the franchiser to operate the brand in neighbouring countries Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam.
Siam Taco is a joint venture between Thoresen Thai Agencies and the Mahagitsiri family-owned CM Capital. The JV currently operates five restaurants in Thailand since launching in January, with plans to grow its network to 40 restaurants within the next five years.
According to Siam Taco director Chalermchai Mahagitsiri, the huge market potential in CLMV countries is what is attracting the company to expand there.
Taco Bell Asia Pacific and Middle East MD Ankush Tuli confirmed the talks but said no final agreement has yet been reached.
Tuli said that Thailand and the rest of Asia Pacific will be the key sales drivers for Taco Bell. It is 300-735 pdf scheduled to open in Indonesia and Malaysia next year, as it intends to double its overseas network to more than 500 over the next few years.
In the Philippines, Taco Bell has six restaurants, operated by its local partner Philippine Pizza Incorporated.
“Asia-Pacific will be our big growth driver because about two-thirds of the global population comes from this region,” said Tuli.
Owned by Yum! Brands, Taco Bell has more than 7000 restaurants in the US and a presence in 30 countries globally.