Calabasas casual-dining chain Cheesecake Factory Inc. is taking its namesake desserts and menu to Asia, continuing its international expansion.
The company last week announced an exclusive licensing agreement with Maxim’s Caterers Ltd., a Hong Kong restaurant operator, to open 14 restaurants over the next 10 years.
The first markets to be targeted are Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan and China with a possible expansion into Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand to follow.
David Overton, Cheesecake Factory’s chief executive, said in announcing the deal that the company’s international expansion to the Middle East had been successful and that the Asian foray would contribute to increases in it earnings per share.
“International expansion will become an increasingly meaningful driver to achieving our goal of delivering midteens earnings per share growth over time as the number of restaurants operated by our licensees gradually increases,” he said in a statement.
Its first Asian restaurant is expected to open next year, but a location hasn’t been determined yet.
Cheesecake Factory began flexing its international arm when it signed a deal with Kuwait-based M.H. Alshaya Co. in 2011 to open 22 restaurants over five years throughout the Middle East. It has four locations there.
It also partnered with Mexican restaurant franchise operator Alsea to open restaurants in Latin America. The operator will develop at least 12 restaurants over eight years. The first is scheduled to open in Mexico in July.
Though the chain is known for its large, consistent menu, Overton has said he would be open to changes to the lineup in China, such as allowing customers to swap out fries for rice, to accommodate local tastes. In Mexico, the challenge was making sure the Mexican food it offered was authentic.
Cheesecake Factory’s international franchise model is a departure for the company, which owns and operates all of its restaurants in the United States.
The company reported last month that same-store sales rose at most of its outlets during the fiscal first quarter, but said poor weather cut into profits, which didn’t meet analysts’ forecasts.
It reported net income of $22.5 million (43 cents a share) in the quarter ended April 1, compared with $25.3 million (48 cents) in the same period a year earlier. Revenue rose about 4 percent to $481 million.
Analysts on average expected net income of 49 cents on revenue of about $478 million, according to Thomson Financial Network.
Cheesecake Factory operates 181 full-service restaurants throughout the United States and Puerto Rico, which includes its Grand Lux Cafe and RockSugar Pan Asian Kitchen restaurants. The company opened its first restaurant in Beverly Hills in 1978.
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