Shenzhen to get taste of US
By KENT CHEN
LOS Angeles-based Numero Uno will open its first pizza and fast food outlet in Shenzhen next week as part of its ambitious plan to enter China's consumer market.
Matrix Enterprises, Numero Uno franchisee for China, plans to open about 22 outlets throughout China within two to three years.
''The market potential in China is very great, with keen demand for high quality Western fast food products,'' said Matrix chairman Huang Powen.
''The only real limitation to the very rapid expansion is Matrix's ability to find sites which meet its exacting standards in the various cities being targeted around China,'' he added.
To distinguish itself from competitors, each outlet's interior will be designed to let customers feel they are in Los Angeles. So the restaurants are not just selling US food but also its culture.
Patrick Sun, analyst at PBI Securities, said there was no doubt that the China market was huge.
''It appears attractive on the surface, but the real challenge is how to maintain the attractiveness of the outlets after the initial consumer enthusiasm fades,'' he said.
Mr Sun said Chinese consumers might visit Western fast food outlets out of curiosity and the real question was how to generate recurrent business for a sustainable operation.
He noted that some American fast food chains, such as McDonald's, might be able to break the pattern because they not only sold the food, but gave consumers a taste of American culture.
Commenting on the American theme, Mr Sun said: ''I think this is necessary because the Chinese would like to experience and see something different to what they are used to.''