Dean & DeLuca gearing up for global expansion

From Soho to Shanghai, Dean & DeLuca, the New York gourmet food chain acquired by a Thai company four years ago is preparing for a substantial global expansion with deals to open 150 shops in airports and over 500 outlets in China over the next five years.

Thailand’s Pace Development Corporation acquired Dean & DeLuca in 2014 and since then has invested in opening more locations for the chain. The American brand began as a single gourmet supermarket in the Soho section of lower Manhattan in 1977 when artists mainly populated the area.

“Since we acquired the Dean & DeLuca brand and operations in 2014, we have made numerous efforts to develop a model to bring the expertise and heritage of the brand in the gourmet food and beverage retail market as well as the cafe segment to a wider population,” said Sorapoj Techakraisri, chief executive of Pace Development Corporation.

In a deal Pace signed with Legardere Travel Retail of France, Dean and DeLuca will be opening 150 outlets in airports around the world. Legardere specializes in duty-free and retail outlets in airports and other travel venues. It would be the first food venture for the French firm.

“Our entry into food services continues to strengthen our portfolio, and the partnership with Dean & DeLuca confirms our ability to deliver our goals and meet the needs of passengers, airports, and brands,” said Dag Rasmussen, chief executive of Lagardere Travel Retail.

Sorapoj said that the Dean and DeLuca outlet at Suvarnabhumi International Airport in Bangkok racks up much higher sales than its cafes and shops in the downtown sections of the capital.

Prior to being bought by Pace, Dean & DeLuca had opened a few locations in other American cities and in 2003 began opening cafes in Japan, Singapore, Philippines, South Korea, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates. Under Pace’s ownership, Dean and DeLuca now has 72 locations around the world.

Pace has also signed an even more substantial agreement with Kinghill Overseas Holding, a subsidiary of CP Group. That deal will allow Dean & DeLuca to open as many as 500 franchises in China over the next five years.

CP Group, a Thai agro-industrial conglomerate owned by a Sino-Thai family, was the first foreign company allowed to do business in China when that country ended its isolation and began slowly opening to the world.

Pace Development, meanwhile, is known more for its luxury real estate ventures. The jewel in its real estate crown is the recently opened Mahanakorn Tower in Bangkok, a mixed-use development that also houses the Ritz-Carlton Residences.