Any franchise worth its salt will be exploring opportunities for overseas expansion. And whilst there is plenty of promise in territories like the States or the UAE, a plucky franchise should certainly be looking to make inroads into China, given its booming economy and a population of 1.35 billion. Evidently this isn’t something you have to tell Pizza Express, which has seriously stepped up its expansion plans in Asia by acquiring its Chinese franchise partner.
The deal has given Pizza Express a serious foothold in the market, allowing it to take control of 27 sites in Shanghai, Shenzhen and Hong Kong. While it hasn’t disclosed the price it paid, the deal has undoubtedly cost Pizza Express a pretty penny with industry experts estimating its value to be around £50m. And it’s looking to build upon this investment by opening a further 15 to 20 sites in the next year.
It’s unlikely this news will be much of a surprise to those that have been following developments at Pizza Express. Whilst, prior to this, the pizza franchise had only one restaurant in China, it hasn’t exactly been holding its cards close to its chest about its desire to capture the eastern market. After the restaurant was itself acquired for £900m by Hony Capital, the Chinese investment group, last July, Richard Hodgson, chief executive of Pizza Express, revealed that Asian expansion was a key focus in the chain’s growth strategy.
“Through our franchise partner, we have been operating successfully there for fourteen years and have built an exciting platform in the key cities of Hong Kong, Shanghai and Beijing,” said Hodgson. “With a model that is proven in the local market and Hony’s expertise in the region, we have the opportunity for China to become as important to us as the UK within ten years.”
We’re sure that China will serve as a solid base for Pizza Express’s expansion across Asia.”