Hong Kong fast-food firm sheds food-court icons

A group of quick-serve Asian cuisine outlets renowned in shopping-mall food courts across Canada is back under Canadian ownership.

Hong Kong-based Cafe de Coral, a major publicly-traded operator of Chinese fast-food restaurant chains, and its operating arm Manchu Wok Entities announced Thursday they’ll sell the Manchu Wok, Wasabi Grill and Noodle and SenseAsian businesses in Canada and the U.S. to Montreal’s MTY Food Group for $7.889 million.

The deal includes 133 stores, of which 19 are corporately-owned and 114 are franchised. Of the stores, 51 are in the U.S., including five corporately-owned sites. Combined, the stores generated about $95 million in sales in their last fiscal year, MTY said Thursday.

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“Manchu Wok is an iconic brand in the ethnic food category and has a long history of success,” MTY CEO Stanley Ma said in a release. Its addition, he said, “will further increase our presence in Canadian food courts and will add to MTY’s nascent franchise network in the U.S.”

The deal is expected to close by Dec. 16, pending the usual closing conditions and regulatory approvals, after which the acquired stores’ head-office functions will move to MTY’s offices at Richmond Hill, Ont.

Cafe de Coral, which also operates over 450 units in Hong Kong and mainland China, describes Manchu Wok as the largest franchisor of Chinese quick-serve restaurants (QSR) in North America.

Manchu Wok started with a single outlet in Peterborough, Ont. in 1980 and expanded across Canada and the U.S., setting up in mall, university and airport food courts and at streetfront locations starting in 2002.

The chain began a “revitalizing” process in 2007, redesigning its stores and reorganizing its operations, and last year also launched its Japanese concept, Wasabi Grill and Noodle.

Cafe de Coral, in its filing Friday, said its board “is of the view that the (sale) will enable the group to focus on its core businesses in Hong Kong and mainland China and to better utilize its resources to achieve long-term growth.”

MTY Food Group operates 26 QSR chains across Canada, with over 2,200 outlets across the country. Its wholly-owned brands include Mr. Sub, Country Style, Koya, Jugo Juice, Vanelli’s, Extreme Pita and Thai Express; it also holds the Canadian licenses for the Yogen Fruz, TacoTime, TCBY and Vieux Duluth chains. — AGCanada.com Network

 

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