Thai food giant plans aggressive Australia expansion

SYDNEY (AFP) - Thailand's Charoen Pokphand Foods is planning to roll out up to 500 quick-service Thai restaurants in Australia, a market it sees as ripe for a fast-food explosion, reports said Tuesday.

The food arm of Thailand's largest agriculture-based company also plans to expand into the booming ready-to-eat meals segment as its Australian investments grow to more than Aus$200 million (S$233 million) over the next five years.

"The best-practice model for restaurants and franchises globally is in Australia," regional general manager Richard Lovell told The Australian newspaper ahead of opening the company's first restaurant in the country, 1000Wat, in Melbourne.

"Over the next four years our target is 300 to 500 stores with a modern Thai, fast-food, great value-for-money offering." Australia has no shortage of fast-food restaurants, but few large-scale quick-service ones that can replicate the McDonald's brand.

Lovell said the company, the leading agro-industrial and food conglomerate in the Asia-Pacific region, planned to open more stores in Melbourne this year before moving to other state capitals.

CP Foods said it wanted to boost its revenues from fast food from three percent currently to 10 percent within in a decade.

"After 28 years' experience in Thailand and following our expansions into markets like India, Vietnam, Cambodia and Myanmar, we want to grow our fast-food concept in Australia," Lovell added.

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