20:38 (GMT +7) - Tuesday 18/02/2020


SonKim & Watami partner to open Japanese restaurants

Released at: 08:55, 28/05/2019

SonKim & Watami partner to open Japanese restaurants

Photo: Khanh Chi (VET)

Japanese casual dining chain shakes hands with local partner to expand chain and promote retail food supply around Vietnam.

by Khanh Chi

Vietnam’s SonKim Group last week announced it will set up a joint venture with Japanese partner the Watami Co. Ltd. to develop the Kyo Watami Grill & Sushi restaurant chain in Vietnam, serving Japanese food to target customers including families and middle-class connoisseurs. The joint venture will also build a food processing plant for the local market and exports.

In the restaurant chain, SonKim will hold an 85 per cent stake and play an active role in management and investment, and will hold 50 per cent in the food processing plant.

“We plan to develop at least 30 restaurants in major cities such as Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi, and Da Nang over the next five to ten years,” said Mr. Huy Nguyen, CEO of the joint venture Watami Vietnam Company. “The first restaurant will open in Ho Chi Minh City in June.”

In the beginning, about 70-80 per cent of the food used by Kyo Watami Grill & Sushi will be imported from Watami’s suppliers in Asia, with the remainder coming from local suppliers approved by Watami. In the future, when F&B and convenience stores develop, SonKim may consider setting up its own material area.

To realize this plan, a food processing plant will be built at the Cat Lai Industrial Zone in Ho Chi Minh City’s District 2. When in place, its products will be exported to Watami’s restaurants in Japan and provided to the restaurant chain and GS25 convenience stores, which SonKim runs through a joint venture with the GS Group from South Korea.

“The food processing plant is considered the foundation for the restaurant chain, because SonKim plans to open several restaurant chains in the years to come,” said Mr. Nguyen Hoang Tuan, Chairman of SonKim Group. He declined to reveal the total investment for the deal.

He emphasized that with its advantages as a property developer, SonKim has 250 locations available for restaurant development. The company also has a strong relationship with some trade centers where it can support its joint venture partners in doing business in the retail and F&B sectors.

“With the opening of the Kyo Watami Grill & Sushi restaurant chain, other restaurant brands from Watami, which has developed 17 brands, may follow,” he added. “SonKim and Watami will probably study introducing a new model of restaurant for the Vietnamese market in the future.”

Watami has 35 years of experience in the F&B sector, with 17 brands and 480 restaurants in Japan, Singapore, the Philippines, and Cambodia.

“Japan’s food market has been developing tremendously, as the annual number of patrons visiting Japanese restaurants has been increasing in recent years by more than 53 per cent, contributing to sales growth of 51 per cent,” Mr. Nguyen said. “However, most Japanese restaurants in Vietnam are franchised or are individual restaurants. This joint venture is expected to boost Japanese food in the local market in the future.”

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