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P.F. Chang's to develop frozen-food line

SCOTTSDALE Ariz. P.F. Chang’s China Bistro Inc. said Monday it has entered into a licensing agreement with Unilever to develop a line of frozen entrees under the P.F. Chang’s brand.

Terms of the licensing agreement with Unilever, based in Englewood Cliffs, N.J., were not disclosed. A launch date for the new products has not been scheduled.

P.F. Chang’s will be joining several other restaurant operators that have ventured into retail consumer products as a way to drive revenue when restaurant sales have slipped. California Pizza Kitchen, T.G.I. Friday’s, Claim Jumper, Marie Callender’s and celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck have long offered retail products in grocery stories. In addition, a number of restaurant chains have been introducing or expanding branded grocery products, including Tony Roma’s, Starbucks, Steak n Shake and Jamba Juice.

"This represents a fantastic growth opportunity for our company and allows our brand to reach more people more often," Rick Federico, chairman and co-chief executive of P.F. Chang’s, said in a statement. "We believe it will complement our core business at the restaurants."

John LeBoutillier, Unilever’s senior vice president for the U.S. foods division, said the prospects for frozen food under the P.F. Chang’s brand are good.

“From research, Asian cuisine ranks only behind Italian among ethnic cuisines for consumers and P.F. Chang’s is their favorite,” LeBoutillier said.

Unilever’s brands include Ben & Jerry’s, Bertolli, Country Crock, Hellmann’s Knorr, Lipton, Popsicle, Promise, Skippy and Slim-Fast as well as such personal-care products as Axe and Q-Tips.

P.F. Chang's has more than 190 Bistro restaurants as well as the Pei Wei Asian Diner fast-casual brand.

Contact Ron Ruggless at [email protected].

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