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|Ambition of Son Kim in corporation with Watami, source: Thanhnien.vn|
The 85:15 co-operation, with Son Kim in majority, will target the Japanese restaurant segment, which Huy Nguyen, managing director of Watami Vietnam Co., Ltd., said has had a very impressive development trajectory. The annual number of patrons visiting Japanese restaurants has been increasing in recent years by more than 53 per cent, contributing to a sales growth of 51 per cent, according to Tienphong.vn.
“In Vietnam, the Japanese food market has been developing tremendously. However, most Japanese restaurants in Vietnam are franchised or are individual restaurants. This is the first time there is a joint venture between a Japanese and a Vietnamese enterprise to launch a Japanese restaurant, hoping this will boost Japanese food in the Vietnamese market,” said Huy Nguyen.
The first restaurant is scheduled to open in June. This restaurant chain will faithfully recreate the original Watami model in Japan with the highlight of seasonal fresh ingredients and dedicated service style.
In the context of the fierce competition in the retail market, after a period of investment, many famous foreign brands had to say goodbye to Vietnam, with the latest case being Auchan supermarket chain from France. Nguyen Hoang Tuan, chairman of Son Kim Group and Son Kim Retail JSC, said that this happens all around the world and Vietnam is not an exception.
|French retailer Auchan pulls out of Vietnam Auchan vies for retail market space France’s AuchanSuper to open 15 stores in Ho Chi Minh City in 2016|
Currently, in the retail segment, Son Kim Retail deals in fashion with brands like Vera or Jockey, household goods with the VGS Shop online shopping channel, and has a joint venture convenience store chain with GS25 from Korea. The most recent segment is F&B, with two high-end Mediterranean-style restaurants, Jardin Des Sens and Mama Sens, and now adding Japanese-style high-end restaurant Watami.
|GS25 convenience store, source: CafeBiz.vn|
“Our competitive advantage is the size of the investment – retailers need to have substantial capital to expand rapidly to have a chance to win. Before entering the game, we carefully prepared both capital and the brand, when we convinced GS25 to contribute 30 per cent. Some brands like Shop & Go leave the game simply because they grow ‘tired’, but the market is still good,” Tuan told Cafebiz.
|Vingroup to acquire Shop & Go grocery store chain for $1|
Statistics on GS25 Vietnam’s website show that they have opened 35 stores in Ho Chi Minh City, nearly a year and a half since the launch, while the target they set at the beginning of 2018 is to open 2,500 stores across Vietnam within 10 years, which means each year, GS25 Vietnam would need to open 250 stores.
At the beginning, about 70-80 per cent of the food used by Kyo Watami Grill & Sushi will be imported from the suppliers of Watami in Asia, while the rest will come from local suppliers approved by Watami. In the future, when F&B and convenience stores develop, Son Kim may think of setting up its own material area.