Yum China takes over shrimp-heavy Huang Ji Huang restaurant chain
Shanghai, China-based Yum China Holdings has completed the acquisition of a Chinese casual dining chain that serves up traditional dishes heavy on shrimp, pangasius, and tilapia.
Yum China, which was spun off of the Louisville, Kentucky, U.S.A.-based Yum Brands in 2016, and which now operates as an independent, publicly-traded company with more than 8,400 restaurants in China, including all KFC outlets across China, has purchased Beijing-based Huang Ji Huang chain, which operates 640 outlets across the country. Terms of the deal were not announced.
Established in 2004 by culinary entrepreneur Huang Geng, the Huang Ji Huang chain operates casual-style restaurants designed to appeal to younger urban consumers. It is currently running an ad campaign featuring Chinese celebrity actress Tian Zi Tian to promote its shrimp dishes.
The deal is in line with Yum’s record of acquiring chains offering quick-service Chinese traditional cuisine, including most recently, the Little Sheep hotpot chain. Yum China’s flagship KFC brand continues to lead the Chinese fast food market, ahead of McDonald’s and a brace of Chinese competitors.
KFC, which also serves pollock and shrimp burgers as well as a range of Sino-centric dishes in its Chinese outlets, has repositioned itself in recent years and rebranded some of its stores as upmarket eateries for middle-class urbanites. A CNY 22.00 (USD 3.08, EUR 2.82) crayfish sandwich features prominently in marketing material for the “K Pro” outlets, which are kitted out more like conventional restaurants, complete with salad bars.
There’s a lot to play for, given that China’s catering market was valued at CNY 4.67 trillion (USD 660.5 billion, EUR 605.9 billion) in 2019, up 9.4 percent on the previous year’s figures.
Others seeking a slice of the pie include a Beijing-based investment company reinventing China’ seafood restaurant scene to target millennials. Its Me Me Shi Guang (translates literally as “kissing sound trendy”) serves seafood dishes and fruit juices in casual, brightly decorated stores in an aesthetic similar to that of Huang Ji Huang.
The chain is one of several launched nationwide by Wan Ke Chuang Ye Guoji TuoZi (Wan Ke Innovation International Investment Co., which also goes by Winker Venture Co.) and has ambitions to rival KFC and McDonald’s in the hearts of Chinese diners with health-focused menus that offer shrimp, squid, and salmon in soup and grilled formats. Customers can choose to eat in with proper dishware and glasses or take-out.
Photo courtesy of Huang Ji Huang