Thailand’s Greyhound Café kicks off overseas expansion

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Greyhound Café, the highly successful Thai restaurant chain, will open its first branch in London this November, the company’s chief executive said last week, the first in a new series of openings overseas in a bid to establish Greyhound as the latest domestic Thai brand to go global.

Although Greyhound has franchised a handful of its cafes in East Asia, the opening in the Soho district of London will mark its first foray into Europe and begin an effort to elevate Greyhound to a global brand. Greyhound executives said that the firm will seek to open two cafes abroad every year for the next several years, generating investment and creating jobs in the process.

Several Thai brands are beginning to establish a global presence at the same time that several successful Thai businessmen have begun buying established foreign brands. Panpuri has become a respected brand of organic spa, beauty and wellness products, Ranong Teas are gaining market share and Singha and Chang beers are extremely well known around the world. Meanwhile, Red Lobster and Dean & DeLuca, well-known American brands, are now Thai owned.

In addition to its cafes, Greyhound also has a fashion line and boutiques, with eight stores in Thailand and nine locations overseas in countries such as Japan, Korea, Indonesia, Israel and Switzerland. But Greyhound executives have said its fashion lines have not done as well as expected in overseas markets against stiff competition and they are planning on rolling back on its presence. Instead, they will re-focus and step up their efforts on expanding Greyhound Cafes, while keeping all creative options open.

“The development of Greyhound will be more aggressive than in the past,” said Nadim Salhani, chief executive of Mudman, the food and beverage company that owns the Greyhound Café brand. He said the London opening would be the first in an effort to penetrate more markets around the world, starting in Europe and the Middle East. He said that he believes Greyhound can become a truly global brand within five to 10 years.

“We’re confident for Greyhound cafe to debut in London because while Greyhound does not offer traditional Thai food, up to 30 percent of our menu is made up of Italian and local dishes,” Salhani said.

Mudman is eyeing Germany, Sweden, France, the U.S. and Canada for future cafes.

All Greyhound cafes overseas operate on a franchise basis, with the exception of the London stores. The company expects to generate roughly $4 to $5 million in revenue from its first Greyhound cafe in London. Franchisees are required to open a minimum of five branches in their areas within five years.

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