|US pizza chain eyes expansion|
|http://www.sina.com.cn 2004/10/29 17:47 Shanghai Daily|
Papa John's, one of the world's three biggest pizza chains, plans to accelerate its expansion in China's coastal region from next year as the domestic market quickly grows.
The US-based chain which opened its first China restaurant in Shanghai in October last year, plans to open 200 stores on the eastern seaboard within 10 years.
"An increasing number of Chinese have developed a taste for pizza. It is good timing for Papa John's to expand its market," said Chu Liansheng, general manager of Shanghai Bangyuehan Catering Management Co Ltd, a franchisee of Papa John's International.
Chu, a former official with Pizza Hut, the pizza giant owned by Yum! Brands Inc which currently dominates the Chinese market, said Papa John's would start with a different method of expansion from its chief rival.
"Papa John's will start with high-end residential communities instead of downtown shopping centers. It's closer to customers and it also saves costs," he said.
So far, the pizza chain has opened five restaurants in Shanghai in residential communities such as Biyun and Gubei. It plans to have eight stores in the city by the end of this year.
Outside Shanghai, Papa John's only other restaurant was opened yesterday in Beijing.
"We will expand the brand into downtown areas later when the brand becomes more mature in the market," Chu said.
To move quickly across eastern China, the company said it will start a franchise program in the second half of next year.
"Investors can buy existing stores or operate the brand on their own properties," Chu said.
Pizza Hut, the country's first pizza chain, has so far opened about 130 stores since it entered the market in 1990. More than 30 are located in Shanghai.
"The eating habits of Chinese, especially the fashionable youth, has been more diversified and created a bigger market for Western-style food," said Duan Fugen, secretary general with Shanghai Restaurant Association. "The market will become even larger with the arrival of the world's big brands."