Au Bon Pain heads for CLMV

Au Bon Pain heads for CLMV

Au Bon Pain has over 70 branches across Thailand. Mudman will spend 200 million baht to expand the bakery chain this year.
Au Bon Pain has over 70 branches across Thailand. Mudman will spend 200 million baht to expand the bakery chain this year.

Mudman Plc, an authorised franchisee of Au Bon Pain bakery chain in Thailand, has obtained the rights to expand the bakery into Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam (CLMV).

The move is to capture increasing demand for lifestyle products, particularly food, among the CLMV market's growing middle class. An improved economic situation in these countries has boosted the number of foreign investors putting in money and spurring consumer purchasing power.

Several Thai companies including the Black Canyon coffee shop, Fuji Japanese food restaurant, PTT's Cafe Amazon coffee chain, and Minor Food's The Pizza Company, have opened restaurants in these countries in the past 3-5 years.

More food operators such as King Food Group, the operator of Krispy Kreme bakery, Food Passion Co, the operator of Bar B Q Plaza restaurant and Zen Corporation Co, the operator of Tummour Isan-style restaurant and On The Table restaurants, and Central Restaurant Group plan to branch out into CLMV this year and next.

Nadim Xavier Salhani, chief executive of Mudman, said the company recently won rights from ABP Corporation, the owner of Au Bon Pain in the US, to open branches of the bakery in the CLMV market.

The company is considering forming a joint venture with local partners or investing on its own in CLMV. The investment model will be finalised by year-end. "The expansion of Au Bon Pain bakery chain into the CLMV market reflects the market's potential,'' he said.

According to Mudman's market study on consumer behaviour in CLMV, purchasing power increased after the economy improved. International bakery and beverage chains are popular among younger people and foreigners there.

Mr Salhani said Mudman expects to open the first Au Bon Pain branch in Cambodia or Vietnam by the end of this year or next.

The company plans to have 10 Au Bon Pain branches in the CLMV market over the next 10 years. Mudman has operated Au Bon Pain in Thailand for two decades and now has over 70 branches across the country.

With the rights to expand Au Bon Pain into the CLMV market, the potential for the company to expand other bakery and beverage chains under its portfolio has also increased. Mudman operates six food, bakery and cafe brands such as Au Bon Pain, Baskin Robbins, Dunkin Donuts, Greyhound Cafe and M-Kitchen.

The company will spend about 200 million baht on its expansion this year. With the plan, it expects its revenue to grow by 3-5% from last year.

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