Leading Thai restaurant group, Mango Tree Worldwide, is poised to double its number of international openings in 2021 compared to the previous two years combined as the company forges a new positive future out of the difficulties caused by the pandemic.In 2019, the group opened 10 outlets across Asia over five formats, which fell to seven in 2020, but the group has roared back this year and is on target to open 17 restaurants across the region in 2021.
Brand expansion in Vietnam, extending into existing markets such as China and the creation of new concepts such as Cloud Kitchens and residential formats have been the backbone of the record growth Mango Tree have confirmed for this year which is set to drive total overseas restaurant numbers to 83 outlets across all formats.
“It has been a torrid time for the restaurant business, there’s no doubt about that,” said Managing Director and Partner Trevor MacKenzie. “This is the fact of our times. But we have found ways to reset, adapt and innovate and that has been the secret of this year which will be a record growth year for the group in terms of our footprint.”
See Trevor MacKenzie speak about new restaurant trends at a recent webinar here. Key to the changes has been the introduction of two new concepts. One goes back to the roots of the 60-plus year-old family dining concept COCA that originally started in Silom in Bangkok catering to the local community. As the market has changed and families have moved out of town to residential suburban centres, COCA Pop Up restaurants, essentially community kitchens serving Thai-Chinese food, hotpot and dim sum, and noodles, have been a big hit.
The other key innovation has been the launch of Cloud Kitchens, or ghost kitchens, taking advantage of low rentals in highly populated spaces so deliveries can be much faster. The first was set up in Latprao, Bangkok and a second Bangkok Cloud Kitchen will be set up by the end of September. The first in Mumbai, India is currently under fit out.
The new concepts have boosted a strong pipeline that will see three restaurants open in Vietnam, in partnership with Novaland, four in China, including two flagship Mango Tree fine dining restaurants in Beijing and Shanghai, four in the Philippines, three in Japan, one in India and two in Thailand.
“For us it has been a base of leveraging our brand which brings with it customer loyalty, getting closer to our customers in terms of proximity and taking advantage of the opportunities the market presents,” added Mr MacKenzie. “For example, we have always had to beg and bargain with landlords to secure the best locations, but the tables have now turned. It’s a renters’ market and we are being approached by landlords asking it to take space.”
Mango Tree and COCA restaurants across all formats will grow to 83 by the end of this year – with targets set for 2022 exceeding 100 across the region – with key franchise destinations driving the growth China, Vietnam and Japan – which has long embraced culinary innovation and quality fast access concepts.