Oporto expands into US and China

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Chicken franchise, Oporto, is in the process of significant international expansion, opening its first store in the US earlier this year and preparing for the third store opening in China next month.

Oporto, part of the Quick Service Restaurant Holdings (QSRH) Group, opened its first US store in Rancho Cucamonga, California earlier this month with additional stores popping up in the nearby cities of Ontario and Glendora in April and July respectively.

Mark Lindsay, group CEO of the QSRH Group said the response in both the US and China has been very positive. "We're very happy with the way things are going, particularly in the US. There's only one store there at the moment so it doesn't have the penetration or brand awareness at this point, but I was over there for the opening and was getting customer feedback, and they loved it. They love the cleanness of the taste. They love the chilli flavours. They were really happy with the product and a lot of the feedback was that there's nothing like it in the US market," Lindsay told Franchising.

The third Chinese store, scheduled to open in the Fujian Province next month, will activate the franchise's aggressive development agreement in the market.

"Their store opens on 2 April, and [the master franchisee] will activate and move into a master activity - they're on a development schedule that requires them, by the time they get to year five, to be opening around 60 stores per annum," Lindsay said.

The plan is similar in the US, with hopes for approximately 50 openings annually after five years.

Lindsay said the Oporto offering has remained almost identical throughout the store openings and he is confident the franchise's menu has significant international appeal.

"Fundamentally, the offering is pretty much the same. There have been a few localised tweaks but nothing too dramatic," he said.

"In the Chinese market there is more of a preference for thigh meat than breast meat, but there's really been no substantial changes over and above that. The sauces are the same, the offering is fundamentally the same, it's the appeal factor of the sauces and the flavours that's really driving the opportunities in those countries."

The QSRH Group, which includes the Red Rooster and Chicken Treats brands, plans to open a further 250 Australian stores within the next five years.

Oporto, which also has master franchisee agreements in the UK and New Zealand, has extensive expansion plans in other areas including India, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Malaysia.

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