Korea’s food and confectionery giant SPC Group has been desperate for overseas expansion, as its mainstay businesses in the local market have already peaked and reached the saturation point.
SPC successfully exported its flagship bakery brand Paris Baguette abroad, including opening a location in the symbolic Times Square in New York City, but some critics say the brand still struggles in terms of brand recognition outside the Korean Peninsula.
Despite this, SPC Group was attempting to push its ambitious expansion plan focusing on the United States by reviewing a possibility to open a high-end restaurant brand named Maison de PB in New York.
Jack Moran, a former global CEO of Paris Baguette for Americas & Europe, said earlier in an interview with U.S. media outlet Thrive Global that Maison de PB would debut in the United States. market sometime last year. However, New York was harshly hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, leading to suspension of SPC Group’s plans for the city.
Regarding any updates about the plan to establish the Maison de PB, the confectionery company admitted it has postponed opening of its premium dining room and it has no plans to resume it this year.
“We were planning so as part of our global business expansion starting with our locations in Singapore. However, due to the COVID-19 outbreak, everything was put on hold. We were going to start with Maison de PB and make our next move after watching its performance in NYC,” a SPC official said.
However, soon after, the SPC official took back his words by saying the firm never had any plans to open the high-end restaurant there.
An industry source said SPC Group wants to open a restaurant to improve the company’s reputation in the U.S. market.
“There is a limit for its success with the confectionery business in the United States and Europe. It is very hard to break the stereotype that an Asian bakery can offer better products than French bakeries. Becoming successful with Maison de PB in NYC is also important but we can see it as part of the group’s efforts to build its brand image there,” a source said.
The source added that SPC Group will have to discard its image as the firm Korean first and develop a strategy suited for the local market.
“It is not about whether it can offer a distinctive menu or delicious dishes. SPC can hire good chefs and they cook foods up to a certain level. For franchise companies, it important how well they market their brands and standardize their margins while operating business efficiently,” the source said.
SPC Group is also expanding its overseas operations aggressively because it wants to beef up other subsidiary businesses apart from Paris Baguette.
“SPC Chairman Hur Young-in has two sons, and in the near future he will pass on his business to his heirs. But Paris Baguette is in an unrivaled position compared to other subsidiaries so Chairman Hur wants to strengthen other businesses for his son who will not inherit the confectionery brand,” the source said.