Agribusiness conglomerate Charoen Pokphand Group (CP Group) and Taiwanese partner Hi-Lai debuted the first Harbour international buffet restaurant in Bangkok on Wednesday, as part of plans to enlarge the group's eatery empire.
The buffet takes up 2,000 square metres on the sixth floor of the Iconsiam complex. It is operated by the new joint venture company CP-Hilai Harbour Co, established with registered capital of 160 million baht.
SET-listed Charoen Pokphand Foods Plc (CPF), CP's flagship subsidiary, holds 49%, while the Taiwanese firm owns 51%.
CP-Hilai Harbour plans to allocate about 650 million baht to open five Harbour buffet restaurants in Thailand over the next five years, including 130 million baht for the first branch at Iconsiam.
"We opened our first Harbour buffet restaurant in Asean here because Dhanin Chearavanont, senior chairman of CP Group, used to be our customer and the group also supplied shrimp to our restaurants last year," said Liu Tzu-Ming, CP-Hilai's chief executive. "We have been talking about business opportunities not only in Thailand but also other countries in Asia."
Mr Liu said Thailand's restaurant business has a bright growth trend because of the country's tourism strength and continued economic growth.
CP senior chairman Dhanin Chearavanont (pointing) and Hi-Lai president Hou Xi Fong open the Harbour restaurant at Iconsiam. (Photo by Pawat Laupaisarntaksin)
Sukhawat Dansermsuk, CPF's chief operating officer for food business and a co-president, said Harbour at Iconsiam is the brand's 10th restaurant in the world. The company plans more Harbour restaurants in Phuket and Pattaya.
"Diversifying the restaurant business is one of CPF's strategies to become a 'Kitchen of the World', increasing access to quality food at all levels," Mr Sukhawat said. "Harbour has enjoyed overwhelming success in Taiwan and China, and we believe it will be warmly welcomed by Thai consumers thanks to the restaurant's strengths, coupled with Thais' eating-out lifestyle."
He said the joint venture is a good match because Hi-Lai Group is keen on food management while CP has strength in raw materials.
Harbour served about 1,000 diners on Wednesday. Prices range from 799 baht per person for lunch and 899 baht for dinner to 1,099 baht all day on weekends and holidays. The company targets 240 million baht in revenue this year.
Harbour serves various cuisines, from Western to Asian, with 200 international food items.
Hi-Lai Group is a mid-sized company in the hotel and food business in Taiwan with total revenue of NT$4.4 billion (4.4 billion baht) in 2018. Of the total, $3.8 billion was generated by food businesses from a total of 15 brands.
About half of food business sales came from the Harbour buffet brand. The group runs more than 40 restaurants in Taiwan and China.