HONG KONG food chain Yummy Holdings Ltd plans to set up at least five Ipoh Sin Seng Fatt outlets this year and 20 outlets across the island by 2005 if the market is favourable.
According to Yummy chairman Alvin Lam the company will own most of the outlets and the rest will be operated on a franchise basis.
Lam said the two outlets in Hong Kong which were located at the Whampoa Gourmet Place and the Jaya Jusco food court in Tuen Mun were doing very well in a relatively short period.
Despite a competitive market, we have managed to hit our target and are already making a profit just after four months of operation.
We will concentrate on opening new outlets now that we have stabilised our operations, said Lam who was in Ipoh for a semi-business trip recently.
Ipoh Sin Seng Fatt sells the famous Ipoh Old Town curry mee, using the curry paste and oil from Sin Seng Fatt proprietor Wang Ah Lan on a franchise basis. Wang and her husband, Yeap Chee Keat have been operating at Jalan Market in Ipoh for the past 14 years.
Lam said the outlets in Hong Kong, operated on a fast-food restaurant concept to ensure affordability, also had prawn mee, chicken koay teow, steamed chicken and lum mien on their menus.
Sales at both outlets have been good from day one especially in the first two weeks of opening. Our record stands at 150 chickens and 1,700 bowls of noodles per day, he said.
According to Lam, the average queuing time at the outlets then was 45 minutes to an hour.
Our customers have been urging us to open more outlets so that they do not have to queue so long. They are also asking for outlets on the island itself so that they do not have to ride the ferry to Kowloon, where the outlets are located, to have curry mee, he said.
Lam believes there is a good market for noodles in Hong Kong and being the first and only authentic curry mee in Hong Kong, Ipoh Sin Seng Fatt has a favourable chance of capturing a huge market share.
As for plans to penetrate the China market, the food chain would first move into the southern regions of Shenzhen and Guangzhou before going north.
The Chinese market is huge and since they have similar liking for noodles, it only makes sense to tap into the market, he said.
Lam added that he was on the look-out for more Malaysian delicacies to be introduced to Hong Kong.
We are looking into setting up outlets to sell bak kut teh and also coffee shops like Starbucks serving the famous Ipoh white coffee.
I find Malaysian food very diversified and the mix of spices makes it even more exciting, he added.
Established in 1989, the food chain first brought to Hong Kong the famous Nanbantei of Tokyo, a mid-upper range yakitori (BBQ) restaurant.
We currently own two restaurants in Hong Kong and have franchises in the Philippines, Indonesia and Los Angeles, California. Next, we will move to Shanghai, Lam said.
The food chain also owns the star-studded French restaurant, Poison Ivy, and a string of oyster and sushi bars by the name of Oyshi.
Yummy Holdings was more into fine dining and boutique restaurants before Ipoh Sin Seng Fatt, said Lam.
Beginning last year, our group has begun expanding more rapidly. Our plan is to carry more upmarket and famous international brand names from Australia, Japan, the US and Britain. We are targeting 15 brand names by the year 2007 with each brand having more than one outlet, focusing on Hong Kong, Japan and China, he said.