International Franchise Deals Continue Across the Globe, Despite Covid
As the world approaches 2 years of on-again, off-again Covid-19 pandemic restrictions, business activity and the economies of many countries are picking up worldwide, although unevenly and in fits and starts. The Omicron variant and accompanying surge in Covid cases has overwhelmed hospitals worldwide and thrown the global commerce another curveball. Nevertheless, here are 9 recent expansion deals announced by global franchise brands.
- Ace Hardware opened its first store in Monterrey, Mexico last October, with a plan to open 13 additional stores in the country by the end of 2022. The store is the first under Ace’s new turnkey franchise model announced in 2020. Ace now operates in approximately 70 countries and has opened more than 900 stores globally in the past 5 years.
- Bonchon, the Korean Fried Chicken brand with about 385 units worldwide (including Thailand, the Philippines, Singapore, Cambodia, Myanmar, Australia, and Vietnam), reported strong 2021 results. In the U.S., where the brand has 115 units, Bonchon opened 11 locations in 2021 and is looking to open 30 more in 2022.
- Chuck E. Cheese, the U.S. family entertainment brand, has signed development agreements in three new countries in South America and the Middle East. Joanna Rostant of Yay! Entertainment in Trinidad & Tobago, already a franchisee, has signed to expand the brand into Guyana and Suriname through sub-franchising. The first site at Suriname is under construction and scheduled to open in the first half of 2022. The brand also partnered with new franchise partners, Benchmark Hospitality Services, to expand new locations across Qatar throughout the next few years.
- Figaro’s Italian Pizza, a 40-year-old U.S. brand, has announced a deal with FranGlobal to open hundreds of Figaro’s pizza outlets throughout India over the next 25 years. Yes, hundreds, with 250 targeted in the next 4 years. FranGlobal is a market entry and advisory firm that deals in every sector and territory and represents a hundred-plus brands actively, said its CEO Venus Barak.
- Focus Brands – the U.S. franchisor of Auntie Anne’s, Carvel, Cinnabon, Jamba, McAlister’s Deli, Moe’s Southwest Grill, and Schlotzsky’s, with more than 6,000 restaurants in more than over 50 countries – reported strong growth in 2021 in the U.S. and Canada: 561 franchises sold and more than 175 units opened. “It was an historic year at Focus Brands… despite the immense challenges of the past 2 years,” said CEO Jim Holthouser.
- Gong cha, the Taiwanese bubble tea concept purchased by Boston-based PE firm TA Associates in 2019, has embarked on an aggressive U.S. expansion plan. The brand has more than 1,500 stores in 20 countries, mostly in the Asia/Pacific region. With 150 stores already in the U.S., the company is targeting 500 domestic stores by 2025, starting in the Chicago area.
- Johnny Rockets, the U.S. 1950s-style restaurant brand with locations in 25 countries, has announced three new units in South America, two in Brazil and one in Chile. The brand already operates in both countries, as well as in Bolivia, Ecuador, and Peru.
- Phenix Salon Suites, the U.S. brand with 315 salons across 33 states – and a recent agreement for 75 units in the U.K. and Ireland – has announced an 8-unit deal to expand into Sweden, beginning in Stockholm. The franchisee, Randa Shebly-Cobb, a multi-unit Phenix operator based in in Atlanta, Georgia, is an Eritrean national raised in Sweden.
- Twin Peaks, with 86 locations in the U.S. and Mexico, has announced a 24-store franchise development agreement with Operadora 2 Montes. The development plan, which will result in 32 total franchised units in Mexico, will begin in Mexico City and surrounding areas, starting with two locations in development that pre-date the new agreement and will open in January and May 2022.
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