Au Bon Pain seals Japanese franchise deal

USA restaurant franchise Au Bon Pain has awarded a 300 unit franchise to REINS International Inc, a Japanese restaurant and retail company. The bakery/café concept is already established in Thailand, Taiwan and South Korea, and the deal will see its Japanese network roll out over the next five years.

'We took a long time talking to different parties and decided that REINS International was a great partner,' says Au Bon Pain President and CEO Sue Morelli. 'There really wasn't a piece of our business that they didn't understand.'

Au Bon Pain announced revenue of US$200 million last year across 255 sites worldwide, and has identified China as the focus for its search for its next international franchise partner. 'We have an international model that is now 10 years old in Bangkok,' says Morelli. 'What we're finding is the international business consumer who travels to New York recognises the Au Bon Pain in Bangkok. That's why we think Au Bon Pain has the cachet that can travel internationally very successfully.

'We obviously watch our larger restaurant icons, people like Starbucks and YUM! (Brands) who we admire so much. They're much, much bigger, and they've clearly established a track record in process and methods to enter these countries.'