NeNe Chicken plans to have 18 restaurants in New Zealand by 2028.
Korean fried chicken chain, NeNe Chicken, plans to open the first of 18 restaurants in New Zealand next month.
The first NeNe Chicken is set to open on Lorne Street in central Auckland on September 8.
ST Group, which also holds the franchise and retail rights to operate a string of hospitality brands here, including Gong Cha, PappaRich and Ippudo, will invest an initial $15 million to launch NeNe Chicken.
The chain is forecast to generate $75m in revenue over the next five years and create 275 jobs.
New Zealand will be the 10th global market for NeNe Chicken, which was founded in the late 1990s in South Korea. The rapidly growing global food chain already has 40 outlets in Australia and there are about 1600 NeNe Chicken stores worldwide, including in the United States, Middle East, Canada, Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Thailand and Malaysia.
NeNe Chicken, which translates to “Yes Yes Chicken”, has been operating across the Tasman since 2012 and had proven hugely successful, said Marcus Teh, general manager for NeNe Chicken and ST Group.
Teh said Korean fried chicken was growing fast, similarly to sushi had when an explosion of new players set up shop five to 10 years ago.
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“We can see that New Zealand is thriving in all new food and popular brands, the country has been deprived of all these yummy foods that are out of town.”
ST Group was looking to establish a chain of NeNe Chicken stores in the Auckland region initially, before expanding into Wellington, Hamilton and Christchurch.
Malaysian multinational ST Group operates 36 food and beverage outlets throughout New Zealand. It is expanding quickly with bubble tea brand Gong Cha.
Gong Cha has its sights set on having 40 outlets in New Zealand by 2025.
NeNe Chicken has high hopes and rapid expansion plans for the New Zealand market. However, Teh said the rate it opened the initial 18 planned restaurants would be determined by how quickly it could hire and train staff.
It estimated it needed about 20 staff per store and has begun interviewing potential candidates.
There had been some challenges finding kitchen and front of house staff, he said.
Teh said he believed NeNe Chicken had the potential to grow to become ST Group’s hero brand in the market, based on how popular and fast-growing it was overseas.
To service a network here, the chain would need to source about 120 tonnes of chicken from domestic suppliers a year.
Teh said ST Group had bounced back from the impact of the pandemic and expected to see significant growth across its hospitality portfolio this year.
“The easing of border restrictions and resumption of international travel towards the end of last year has lifted business sentiment and begun to revitalise the food and beverage sector,” he said.
“New Zealanders are known to be curious and open to trying new food experiences. As a result, there is a market for innovative and unique food brands that offer something different from traditional quick service restaurants businesses.”
Gong Cha had proven successful in New Zealand with 28-stores.
New Zealand is one of Gong Cha’s fastest-growing markets. Over the past year it has increased its revenue by 20%, compared to the global store average increase of 6.2%.