CARPINTERIA Calif. The first Carl’s Jr. restaurant opened in China on Thursday, beginning a phase of international growth that parent company CKE Restaurants Inc. said could eventually lead to more than 1,000 locations there.
The restaurant was opened in Shanghai, the first of more than 100 Carl’s Jr. locations planned over the next eight years by Star Food F&B Management Co., a joint venture between multi-concept food-and-beverage group BreadTalk Group Limited and Aspac F&B International Pte., a Carl’s Jr. franchisee in Singapore and Malaysia.
Star Food plans to focus primarily on the markets of Shanghai, Beijing and Tianjin, as well as the provinces of Zhejiang and Jiangsu, officials at Carpinteria, Calif.-based CKE said.
The agreement is part of a strategic move to accelerate franchise development in international markets, officials said. Currently CKE licenses 332 restaurants overseas, including both its Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s brands. Over the next five years, the company plans to double its international presence to more than 665 locations.
E. Michael Murphy, president of CKE Restaurants, said China represents a tremendous growth opportunity.
“Consumers in China have yet to experience the kind of premium-quality burgers that Carl’s Jr. has to offer, and our strong success in other Asian countries proves that the market is ready for them,” he said. “The strength of our brand matched with Aspac’s operating experience with Carl’s Jr. in Singapore and Malaysia, along with the BreadTalk Group’s local market knowledge gives us confidence that we have a bright future in the market.”
CKE operates or franchises 1,205 Carl’s Jr. locations and 1,915 Hardee’s in 42 states and 14 countries.