Stifled by China’s zero-COVID policy, Jumbo Seafood looks to Southeast Asia for growth

Published on
March 29, 2022
Singapore-based restaurant chain Jumbo Seafood has opened a new location in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam.

Singapore-based restaurant chain Jumbo Seafood has opened a new location in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam.

Located in the upmarket District 3 of Vietnam’s biggest city, the restaurant is 21,065 square feet in size and has seating capacity for 297 people. It is the second Jumbo to open in Vietnam – the first opened in 2017 – and it is also the chain’s largest restaurant outside of Singapore. Its menu features imported lobster and other premium seafood products, similar to the offerings found at Jumbo’s other locations across China and Singapore.

Operated by Nova F&B Joint Stock Company, it is Jumbo’s second franchised outlet. In a statement to investors, the firm said it aimed to open “a couple more outlets” in Vietnam “within the next two years.”

Jumbo operates 41 outlets in total under seven brands across Asia. Of those, 18 are Jumbo Seafood outlets, including a new 229-seat restaurant opened in late 2021 at the new Universal Beijing Resort. The company also has outlets in Shanghai, Beijing, Xi’an, and Fuzhou in China. In 2018, Jumbo announced an expansion into China’s smaller regional cities to tap into increased growth outside the country’s first-tier cities, but it scaled back its plan in 2021 following COVID-19-related closures of foodservice establishments as part of national lockdowns in China.

While the company reported a loss for 2021, in the 12 months to the end of September 2021, Jumbo grew revenue from its Chinese operations by 50.1 percent to SGD 31.8 million (USD 23.5 million, EUR 21.3 million) compared to the previous 12 months, in part due to a bounceback from China’s first COVID-19 lockdown in early 2020. It also launched a new lifestyle brand in June 2021 named Love, Afare, and expanded its packaged product range to include sauces and spice mixes, snacks, and merchandise.

Jumbo Seafood CEO and Executive Director CEO Ang Kiam Meng said last year that COVID-19-related dining restrictions were “making operations extremely challenging.” However, since then, Singapore – and Vietnam – have largely loosened their COVID restrictions, and as Southeast Asia starts to tentatively reopen to tourists, the company sees opportunity to expand its regional presence and is “actively exploring further growth opportunities with existing and new franchise partners,” he said.

“COVID-19 has been disruptive to our business plans around the region in the past two years. We are heartened to see the resilience of our franchise partner, and the support from our regional fans, which are reflected through the successful opening of our second outlet in Vietnam,” Meng said. “We believe in the potential of the regional markets, such as Vietnam, which are backed by a sizeable consumer base who appreciates quality Singapore seafood cuisine. We are actively exploring further growth opportunities with existing and new franchise partners to expand our regional presence.”

Photo courtesy of Jumbo Group

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